On Sunday my friend took me to church.
Before you stop reading, let me assure you that this is merely a post about my experiences, and it is no way ‘preachy’, I know religion can be sensitive subject.
Now, I was brought up as a Catholic and to be honest, I’ve never really questioned it, I just go to church once a week, sing, recite, pray and be on my merry way.
But this week was different. Although my friend is also a Christian, she does not label herself as one particular denomination and so their practices are markedly different to those I am used to. Instead of the almost ritualistic proceeding I have grown accustomed to, I was thrown into an environment where people stood up and shared stories, prayers and hopes. Being stereotypically British, I felt immediately uncomfortable – spontaneity is not my forte. However, as the service continued, I began to relax a little more, and dare I say it, enjoy myself?!
Now I know many people are very scpetical when approaching religion of any form, and I understand why. How can we believe that there is a greater being, so powerful He is able to create and destroy anything. How can we believe that one being can control everything on our planet. How could an ‘all loving’ God allow human suffering?
I am not debating any of these points, because I’m sure you’ve heard it all before and I don’t think it’s great to preach to anybody anyway.
But what this service made me realise was that whether there is one God, many Gods or no God, even the BELIEF that an almighty being exists can be extremely powerful. I was surprised by stories of people who described having been healed of seemingly chronic ailments, all thanks to the prayers of others. Taken aback by claims of conversations with God. Amazed by the conviction of so many people, despite a complete and utter lack of proof.
But it was …. nice. To see these people, who might otherwise have given up to have hope, to feel stronger and to build bonds. Support was received by anyone who was brave enough to ask. And it was this which comforted me most.
Maybe there is a God somewhere out there, solving our problems, healing the sick and caring for the poor. Or maybe it’s just the good will of those around us, the power of the mind and a hint of hope. Either way, I became aware that church can offer the chance to access these resources. It doesn’t have to be a dull, predictable, weekly chore. It can be anything you want it to be, even if that is just a way to meet a group of new people. I think it’s time to expand your horizons and see what’s out there, because I’ve only dipped one toe in the water, and I’m a bit excited.