Praise The Lord

I had kind of an interesting experience last night. Interesting and cool.

The boyfriend and I decided to go for a walk before dinner. It was finally a nice night weather-wise and I like to walk to the park and watch the dogs play. Anyway, we happened down a block that we don't usually walk, and could hear this great music. We looked around and determined that it was coming from a church on the next block, that had its windows open. So, we walked around the block to the front of the church.

And there, right where I had never noticed it before, was a big Baptist church. Well, I guess I had noticed it, because I've looked for parking on that street, but I never really looked up at the church. It was a big pretty old church. Both of the front doors were propped open and coming from inside was some very loud, very excited gospel music.

Although the doors were propped open, we couldn't see in from the street because there was a tall set of stairs leading up to the front door. I suggested that we walk up the stairs so we could see in, but the boyfriend thought it might be disrespectful. I didn't think it would be - isn't that why they have the doors and windows open, to share their music? (Or, maybe it was just getting hot with all the dancing and singing.) And don't most congregations want people to come in and check it out? (Although, my church has some sort of sign outside that says something like "Please join us, all are welcome." and I didn't really see anything at this church. But maybe that's just implied by being a church with open doors, literally.) Maybe this would be a good place for a blogpoll - who thinks it would've been disrespectful to go up the stairs and take a peek in? Granted, I can see the flip side. It would be disrespectful to just come by and gawk. And even though that's not what I was doing, I suppose that's how it could be taken.

Anyway, because I don't listen to the boyfriend that much anyway, (Just kidding! Sort of.), I went up just a few stairs so I could take a look in. Going up a few steps I saw that it must have been some type of choir rehearsal, not a service, because the rest of the church was empty. One of the men in the front of the choir saw me, though, and waved for me to come in. So, we did.

We went in and sat in the backrow for one very awesome jam. They had an organ, a drum set (the teenager on the drums was great), and, as far as I could tell, they weren't following any music, they were just jamming along as it came to them. (Well, at least, "jamming" is what we raised by hippies would call it.) The choir members were dancing, clapping, and (again, as far as I could tell) just shouting out or singing whatever lyrics came to them. Now, compare this to my church: The choir, although diverse, comes to the front of their church with their sheet music held neatly in matching binders, they sing their song and if it's an upbeat one there might be a little bit of toe-tapping or maybe finger-snapping in the audience. I mean, me too of course, I'd feel a little silly going into all-out-dance-mode-shouting-Hallelujah while everyone else tapped their toes. And our hymns don't usually lend themselves to all-out-dance-mode either. But I thought this was just great.

I was a little afraid that someone might come out to us and make a hard sell for their church. Which is what probably would have happened in many churches (yes, including mine). I wasn't too worried, but I was already figuring that we would tell them that we go to the church down the street. But they just let us hang out and listen. We stayed for one fairly long song, and then left.

But all night I kept thinking, "That was really cool. I wish our church had that much energy."

On the way home, I asked the boyfriend, "Do you think that if we went to that church on a Sunday, we'd be the only white people there?"

"Probably." he said. "But they'd probably welcome us."

And I spent the rest of the night thinking, "That's pretty cool."

10 comments:

  1. I don't think it would be disrespectful at all to walk up the stairs. Every church I've gone has pretty much had an open door policy (especially if you are willing to contribute financially).

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  2. I don't think it would have been disrespectful to walk up and look in, even if a church service was going on. They wouldn't have open doors if they didn't want you to feel welcomed to come up.

    I understand your feelings about the church. My old church is a lot like yours, but since college I've only attended churches like the one you just experienced. If you really liked it, you should consider going a couple of Sundays. You might be the only white girl, but they will most certainly welcome you. And I think there's something to be said about the need for breaking down racial barriers during church services. Sunday should not be the most segregated day of the week.

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  3. I don't think it was disrespectful. Go and worship and have a good time, I'm sure you will be welcome. Really, isn't that what churches are supposed to be about?

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  4. Yeah, I think ANY church is happy to have new faces in the congregation. My vote is for NOT disrespectful...musta been quite energetic. It would take a ceiling collapse to cause the congregation at my church to get energetic about anything...

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  5. I don't think walking up the steps to look inside when the doors are open would ever be disrespectful, unless you were, I dunno, wearing an "I hate God" t-Shirt. If it had been a private type of service- wedding or funeral, you should leave when you realize that- but it was choir practice. They probably appreciated the compliment.

    My parents and I toured lots of different types of churches when I was a teenager, and we really loved the primarily African- American ones because they were so much more enthuiastic than our traditional type Presbyterian Church. Even in the South where churches are generally divided by race, we never felt unwelcome. You should definitely go to service there some Sunday.

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  6. I think what you felt was the freedom of the Spirit. What an awesome feeling!

    Vote for not disrespectful.

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  7. "Make a joyous noise unto the Lord, all ye lands." Psalm 100:1

    Any church or congregation that would find that disrespectful wouldn't have attracted your attention in the first place.

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  8. Not disrespectful at all . . .

    And a very, very cool story . . . thanks for sharing!

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  9. I go with the not disrespectful vote as well. Growing up I was exposed to a lot of different churches when I went with friends to their church, and I always felt welcome. The only time I felt hesitant going into a strange church was a Greek Orthodox church in San Francisco. It was obvious that they had frequently been visited by tourists who may have been disrespectful in their attire or demeanor (There were signs with the rules for attire). I stood at the doorway (was wearing shorts and sandals) and felt a little uncomfortable.

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  10. As a musician more than a churchgoer, we are always pretty happy when someone wanders in off the street to one of our rehersals. Not disrespectful to either the muse or the lord, though depends what's in your heart.

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