June 07, 2011

Pride Part II (Morning Services--or the Prequel?)

Queue the early morning flutes and bird sounds...

OK I'll be serious from now on, promise. Sometime last Saturday evening a friend had mentioned that he was singing at the morning services at First United Methodist Church in Salt Lake City. Initially the thought of rushing to be to church at 7:45am wasn't very appealing but I figured since we were going to be nearby for the day's activities we might as well score a good parking spot around the area and yes, why not hear our friend sing? Turns out two friends were singing at the services so that was already a bonus. I had never been to this church before so it is always interesting to walk into a sanctuary and feel the awkwardness of a new worship place, not quite knowing what's going to happen.

My friend was already playing the piano and the pastor was checking the sound system and I saw a couple more familiar and friendly faces, then all of the sudden my dear friend Invictus Pilgrim walks in and sits right next to us; more friends! This is really starting to get good, coffee is finally kicking in and I'm getting ready to get my church groove on. Then my friend at the piano starts singing an arrangement of "How Great Thou Art"

O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made.
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee:
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze:

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin:

When Christ shall come with shouts of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration,
And there proclaim, my God, how great Thou art!
I'm taken back to my mission days when I first heard an elder play and sing that song and tears start forming. I'm slightly uncomfortable feeling so vulnerable in a new place, the control freak in my wants to keep it together, but I can't help react the way I'm feeling. As the service gets under way scriptures and more words of affirmation and love are read:

“We believe that God is loving and healing through our tears
And we believe God can make us whole again.
For we believe in the great healing love of God.
We believe that God has made us who we are.
And we believe that God rejoices when we are able to live honest lives."

God made me and rejoices when I'm able to live an honest life...what a concept!! I may have heard that before in this or another context but it hits me like a ton of rocks and more & more tears come down. At some point I'm being held by Jeff and I just can't stop crying & feeling so overwhelmed. Call it 'the spirit' or whatever brand of feeling it may be, but I can't help but think that this is something good and very much needed for my soul. I remember feeling similar things going to Catholic mass, going to Presbyterian services and yes, I even recall feeling it in the LDS church at times...

A church board member gets up and talks about how the church has come along to being all inclusive and affirming--a process that normally takes anywhere form 1-5 years and it actually took the board members less than 30 minutes to reach...more tears come down.  The actual sermon was a simple metaphor of chickens who were never told they were actual birds and once they figured that part out, life was never the same in the chicken coup where they lived...really? A simple message with so much meaning and so appropriate. Communion was amazing, the pastor goes out of his way to include everyone, regardless of whether they are members of the church or not--more tears come as I take a piece of bread and dunk it in the wine.

I think God is trying to tell me something!

More music and beautiful messages. At the end of the service the entire congregation forms a circle; people hold each other's hands and pray and bless each other before going out. Maybe I haven't given God a chance to be in my life and bless me through others . I've lived the last few years on my own, feeling lost; renouncing and denouncing God and thinking that I'm doing just fine on my own and lately I'm feeling that maybe it is time I find him again and find some form of spirituality. Maybe it was the feelings of pride, having close friends nearby but that helped me feel all of that..maybe I'm just a sentimental old fool...but the experience definitely set the tone for the rest of my day. The last few years have left me with a sour taste for God and all things religion and I've hurt and been hungry and thirsty for years and maybe, just maybe it is time to find that which I've been missing wherever it may be.

Funny how things like that turn into something completely unexpected and yet so profound. I don't know where this quest will lead me. I have to be honest and clarify that I don't think I'll find what I may be looking for in the LDS church. I think a lot of water has passed under that bridge; I've made my peace with that part and but that doesn't mean I'm burning the bridge necessarily...who knows really. I'm also aware that if the Mormon church works for others I can certainly respect them for making that choice. Everyone has to find their own brand of spirituality, being what it may...


  1. Thanks for sharing, Miguel. I can relate to so much of what you have written. It meant a lot to me that you and Jeff were there, and I feel privileged to have shared that experience with you guys.

  2. I have been going back to church. Not the Mormon church but an affirming church. It warms my soul to not have to fight others for acceptance, to feel gods love, to have hope. I still struggle at times with these churchs because my Mormon beliefs will creep in and tell me what is wrong with the church but I just ignore them. Sit back and enjoy the spirit

  3. Thanks for your comments IP and GME.

    We went back to Methodist services the week after pride and it was a sweet experience, not as piercing as the service on Pride Day but significant nonetheless. We'll see where this journey takes me, but I intend to find my way back to God somehow, somewhere. I think it is important enough for me to do that.