Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I went to a Megachurch last night

The church was huge. And even though I was there with over 5000 of my fellow worshippers, it felt small and intimate. The pastor was charismatic, beautiful and dangerous. Donned in black he took us through the stages of grief and levels of ecstasy. We were different when we left than when we entered. Wiser, older, enlightened? From my seat I could see so many different people who also came to worship and be transformed. There were the couples who had been married for a long time. The best friends since high school, usually a girl and a guy and the guy is now comfortably gay and fully open. There were the outcasts cloaked in black and today's version of the teeny-bopper with their hand held electronic devices and pink platform shoes. There were the people on first dates trying to figure out if this other person was someone they wanted to spend more time with or at least have sex with. And then there were the people like me being transported back to a time when we were more innocent in our despair. What were we all doing there? We were probably there for the same reason everyone goes to church - to feel part of something larger than ourselves. To touch the infinite - just for a moment.

The sermon went on for over two hours with ebbs and flows and call and response. We all knew when to stand up and scream or sit down and reflect. Each of us had a different word or phrase that caused us to close our eyes, lift up our hands and silently testify. The Great Reverend took us through so many phases of life, taught us so many moral lessons about birth and death and pain and sex. About oppression and religion and suicide. We swayed and clapped and stamped our feet and had a good - hell, a great cry. We forgave wrongs and woke up old pains. We stood still and broke down. And in the end we said good-bye and went back to our ordinary lives.

The charismatic one in black walked away but left the scent of earth and passion in his wake. We stood there frozen, mesmerized. Had we really just gone there? And was it over so soon? We were drunk and shocked when the bright lights came back on. Dream over, liminality ended. But for those two hours we got to glimpse the infinite and to reach out and touch faith.

Photo: Master and Servant