For the last few days, the desire to go to church has been welling up inside me. While this might not be strange for some people, for me it’s rather odd. Because I’m Jewish. And the High Holy Days, the most sacred time of the Jewish calendar, have just ended. So yes, that makes it all a bit strange.
Some background… I am a Jew by right of birth, but I’ve never been a practicing Jew. I wouldn’t have been in synagogue over the past couple of weeks even if this compulsion for religion had hit a few days earlier.
No, what I was craving was something I’ve never felt in synagogue. It’s a feeling of unity and spirituality. And while I don’t believe in some of the precepts of Christianity, I have found that sense of spiritual connection in the few church services I’ve attended.
Perhaps it’s because the service is in English rather than Hebrew, so I can keep up with what’s going on. Perhaps it’s because Judaism reveres the Old Testament, which teaches a jealous, angry, and spiteful God; in contrast, while Christianity does it’s fair share of fire and brimstone, it also preaches from the New Testament the lessons of love, The Golden Rule, tolerance and compassion.
The churches that I have attended are on the spiritual end of the spectrum – Unitarian Universalist and Unity (which is where I find my true spiritual home, but the closest congregation is two hours away).
Today I chose a Congregational Church because it was accessible and a friend of mine was preaching. As the congregation read aloud, I substituted a few words so that I could continue to enjoy the service without getting triggered by speaking words I don’t believe.
And you know what? It may not feel like home, but it was exactly what I needed.
I’m feeling the need to connect in a way that isn’t easily available to me at the moment. I miss my spiritual community – we keep in touch by phone and email and Facebook, but I miss feeling immersed in their love. That space feels like home to me.
But right now that congregation isn’t available to me. So I did the best I could with what was available. I found a spiritual community that would welcome me. I left my religious baggage at the door and enjoyed the service for what it was – a quiet respite in the midst of a busy and noisy time.
To Elisa and the community at the North Congregational Church, thank you for welcoming me. I am grateful to have spent some time with you this morning.
Today’s miracle: Finding solace in a most unexpected place.