Saturday, January 14, 2017

My First Time Going to Church

Church is something that has not really been on my mind or in my life. I didn't go to Church as a kid apart from major family events such as christenings, weddings and funerals, and my family was not very religious. I was exposed to a small amount of religion at school; the teachings were based in Anglican/Church of England faith and then Lutheran in my high school years which was quite similar. We had chapel 3 times a week where the band performed religious songs, followed by a pastor's sermon. Many of us dreaded it (it could get quite repetitive!) and the rest of us were ambivalent.

Very few of my friends were religious and no one in my year level cared about Christian Studies at all. I definitely didn't connect to the dull way the messages were sometimes delivered. I wasn't inspired or excited by anything they were talking about and it felt like an old 'fuddy duddy' person thing to be into.

I've always been a spiritual person and been into magic and mystical things. Connecting with the divine, angels and spirit guides has always been close to my heart (I saw angels twice when I was 8 years old, right after my dad died) so it felt like my beliefs and experiences directly went against The Bible.

In the middle of 2016 when I was home alone for a month while my mum and her partner went travelling overseas, I started searching for churches in my area online. I wasn't sure why and I didn't end up going, but I looked at every website of Gold Coast churches I could find, as well as some Brisbane ones. There was one that stood out to me - Elevation - but I didn't look into it further than that.

In December I was starting to feel like I was being guided towards Church. It first started with meeting my new friend Sophie at at the Indisposable Concept gallery event who mentioned she was a Christian. After adding each other on FaceBook and talking later that night she mentioned that she goes to Elevation and invited me to come along sometime. I was intrigued but I couldn't help be a little nervous and resistant to the idea of attending church because I have been so set in my spiritual beliefs for the last two years.

Something that has come up for me while thinking about Church, is that I have an issue with the word "God". It's like this feeling of just inner clenching through my body when I hear it. Jesus I am fine with (this took some time) but the word God just puts me off and causes this unconscious reaction. Maybe it's because so many unjustifiable, despicable acts have been done in the name of God. Even when I got into the medium James Van Praagh and he talked about God as the source of love, it still made me feel this way. I'm not sure if this feeling will go away or if it will always be with me.

Last Sunday night I went to Elevation for the first time. Sophie wasn't there as she had to work, so I went stag. I am actually really glad that I did because it was a very profound experience for me. I got there 5 minutes before it begun, went into the auditorium, sat down, and wanted to cry. A few tears were welling up in my eyes, then the service started. The second the band came on stage a flood of young people came running in to the Church and hurried to find some seats. The band got it started by performing 3 songs (which made me cry even more because music always moves me). It surprised me how enthusiastic the group was and how into the music they were - the teenagers were jumping and so passionate about it. Whenever the band performed songs at school everyone just stood or sat there doing nothing, then did the polite clap when it was over.

After that, the service started. The founder of the Church (possibly) came up to introduce the evening, then there was 60 seconds where you had to talk to someone next to you or around you that you don't know. The guy in front of me turned around and introduced himself to me - Mike. He was really warm and friendly and we did the basic chit-chat while tears were still streaming down my face. After that the pastor began his sermon on the monthly theme "Atmosphere" and the sub-theme for the week was Agreement.

The sermon was based in faith but was not just repetition of bible verses which I appreciated. He added real stories from life and was definitely a relatable sermon which I appreciated. Do I agree with everything that The Bible says? Absolutely not and I never will because a lot of it makes no sense. But do I think we can learn something from The Bible? Absolutely.

After the Sermon ended the band came back on to continue performing whilst people went up to the front of the Church where the pastors were standing and would pray for each individual that went up. They encouraged people not to be shy but I was and stood back. Mike went up there and then when he came back he turned around to me and asked me if I wanted him to pray for me. I was still crying a bit at this point and said "if you want to, it's new to me". He then put his hands on my shoulders and started saying the prayer. I couldn't hear most of it as the band was quite loud but I started crying even more while it was happening. It was a really kind gesture from him and I was grateful that he had offered it to me. I think it would've been too intense for me to go up to one of the pastors at the front my first time there in front of lots of people I don't know.

The most profound moment for me was when the band were singing Amazing Grace.

My chains are gone, I've been set free.

Those were the lyrics that really made me cry because I've always put chains around myself to protect me and to protect others. When I saw a psychic last year he told me that it's like I've been putting chains around myself and my dad has been removing them.

I am definitely going to go back - probably not every single week but it's too early to say at the moment. I enjoyed it and like the community vibe that Elevation has. It's funny because about a week ago I pulled a card from the Crazy Sexy Love Notes cards and picked Elevate Your Energy. After the few weeks I have had with lots of emotional breakdowns and unstable emotions, it felt like the right time to go and I'm glad I did.

Whew! That was a heavy post but I'm really glad I have written it all out. It saved me from handwriting it all in my journal. Feel free to post a comment and let me know any experiences you have had with Church - the good, the bad and the ugly, I'm happy to hear it all. ♥

P.S. This was taken directly from my first Newsletter! You can subscribe here.


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