Reason #4: I Don't Go To Church.
So, I left you on a bit of a sour note in my last post. (Frankly, the entire post was a bit sour. Bad day, I guess.) But, I didn't think it was fair (to me) to leave everyone hanging on the thought: "Christmas church is the worst." Not because I don't think it is, but, because you might think me more evil than I truly am. (Yes, for some reason, I care.)
Truth is... I've always hated church. And, by "church," I mostly mean Sunday mornings.
I wasn't always evil. There was a time in my life where I wanted to be a pastor. I was probably 7. And, the primary draw was 6 days off per week, followed by 1 day where I get to tell everyone what to do. (This was immediately following the period in my life where I experienced extreme jealousy towards our neighbor's dog. He got to sleep whenever he wanted. I was not what one would call "highly motivated.") And, now that I say it out loud, I guess I AM that evil.
There were many things besides interrupted Sunday morning sleep that made me dislike church.
****Pause for pre-apology. I'm sorry to everyone I love. You raised me right. The rest is my fault. You are all good Lutherans, and I respect each and every one of you. I'll miss our conversations, now that you probably won't ever speak to me again.*****
I was raised in a Lutheran church. Missouri Synod to be exact. It was about as churchy an environment as you can get. Like, one teensy step below Roman Catholic churchiness.
The sermons were looooooooooooooong. And, boring. Ben Stein had more inflection in one scene of Ferris Bueller than our pastor had in a month's worth of sermons.
The hymns. Oh, God, the hymns. Where the sermons had NO inflection, the hymns had ONLY inflection. It was if the notes were chosen at random. Drop two octaves, jump one, dip a half, jump two. On to the next bar. Germans have many skills. Hymn writing is not one of them. If Germany built cars in the same manner they built hymns, BMWs would look like Legos, and we'd all be begging for tires. And the lyrics... never have lyrics matched a language so well... even in an entirely different one! The English language hymns SOUNDED German. How do they do that? And, the German language is not one that history has recorded as "beautiful." It's just not. I love the sound of it, but, it ain't pretty. Neither are their hymns.
(Side story: My family has a prayer that we say at every meal together. I was 10 years old before I figured out it wasn't 4 German words, but rather 4 lines of English. "ComeLordJesus. BeOurGuest. LetTheseGifts. ToUsBeBlessed." It was always said in such a dry, mumbly fashion that it took me a decade to decipher it. It's a true story, and it doesn't make me look too bright. But, it needed to be told. Which brings me to...)
Lutherans love their interactive readings. The pastor says something, like: "Jesus said, bring me the bread." Then, the entire congregation reads like 3 paragraphs in response. In unison. "And so they brought him the bread, and he broke it into pieces, giving each an equal size. And they ate the bread. Without butter." The part that always bothered me, was that by the end, everyone was so in lock step and monotone, it sounded like we were all zombie robots. "And the bread was good, and the butter bad. And the people who ate the bread were both good and bad." Of course, it was never about bread and butter, but by the end, it might as well have been, as all meaning was completely lost in the creepy delivery. I hated it, and still do.
Finally, there were all the guilty feelings. Not that I was sinning. No, it was that the pastor thought so highly of me. In almost every sermon, he would quote me. "And, Paul tells us..." (Did I mention that I'm not too bright?) "Uh... no I didn't. I didn't tell you anything." I never knew if I was supposed to fess up about it. Do I tell my mom that the pastor thinks I've talked to Jesus? Do I confront him? It was too much for an honest young man like me to take.
There's more, of course. Like, the bitter disappointment that was communion wafers. But, I've written too much and lost too many already.
Of course, I should have tied this more directly to "Christmas church." But, maybe I'll make that the next post. After all, I've really nothing left to lose. (On the bright side, I'll never have to turn down another church invitation again.)