Monday, November 23, 2009

Finally El Cerrito UMC

“We tend to sit together up front on the left, it stays warmer that way,” the lady greeting me explained as I entered the small church. A few people in choir robes milled around in the first three pews up there so I asked for clarification from one of the few non-robed people. “Right here.” She said, pointing to the area I had thought was for the choir. Still uncertain and feeling a bit odd about sitting with the choir, I chose a seat at the end of the pew directly behind the choir.

When the service began, I started to understand. About half the people in attendance wore choir robes. I made the number present an even dozen, though a few more trickled in as the service went on, perhaps bringing the final number close to twenty. Even by the end, there were only two men present. Even more surprising, all the people were white. That never happens in the Bay.

Communion was laid out on the head table, which also confused me since it was not the first Sunday of the month, the Sunday generally reserved for Communion in the Methodist church. The back of the bulletin listed the Minister as “All of Us.” It seems in this church Communion occurs whenever an ordained person is available to come and give it. So, this day, this fourth Sunday was Communion Sunday in this church. The visiting, I don’t even know what she’s called, tore off pieces of a single croissant and gave them to each worshiper to dip in the white grape juice. Flaky pieces of croissant floated on top of the nearly clear liquid.

One of the choir-robe decked people gave the sermon. I liked what I heard, but I’ll admit I was having a very hard time paying attention. My mind was wandering, thinking about how much I need to get out of here, how much this perfectly epitomized my impression of this God-forsaken place.

Not that God has forsaken it, but that it has forsaken God. To love God, or rather, to acknowledge that you love God, makes you an outcast here. I hate that. Everyone is so concerned with individualism and political correctness (that’s what the sermon was about!), that there is no room for God.

Maybe that’s why I was so happy when the Jehovah’s Witnesses showed up at my door in the middle of the week and again on Saturday. Here were people who were not afraid of their faith; who were willing to go out on a limb and share that faith. I know it’s part of their beliefs and practices to go door-to-door, but I still admire them for the ability to do it in this hostile environment. I wonder what the most common reaction they get is.

I’ll go back to this church, when I’m around here. Even though it makes me sad to see such a small congregation. The people were nice, it’s a walkable distance, the singing was beautiful, and I need church. However, I am hoping there are many more Sunday trips to Merced in my future, I really like that church in Atwater and want to go back as often as possible.


Jeannie said...

You didn't mention what the demographics were age-wise - just wondering.

goldenrail said...

one child, that came late with her mother and left early. the choir director/piano player is younger. everyone else was older, some your age, a few much older.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for being a proud theist! Extreme secular humanism, like religious fundamentalism is a nasty thing. At the lunatic fringe of human philosophy things tend to wrap around and join and aside from the rhetoric become almost indistinguishable from each other; A Mobius strip of dangerous thought.