Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Sunday and Thoughts on India
My mind is on India.
Yesterday was very fun. I had actually woken up at 3am because I had taken an unexpected afternoon nap on Saturday because I'd laid down with a stomach ache.
My ride for church came at 9:45am. We got there for Sunday School. A man there asked if I'd found a job and I was telling him no, but I was applying for summer jobs now that I wasn't going to India until the fall. Well he hadn't heard about it and once I told him, he called over other people and was telling them. It was fun answering their questions. After so much unemployment, it's enjoyable to have something actually interesting to tell people when they ask about my life!
Church itself was very good. I enjoyed worshiping. I was still not feeling 100% from the day before, and I had been debating whether I'd stay in Spartanburg. See, last night my church was starting a new program for "post college to pre-empty nest" people. They're calling it "The Supper Club". I got out of church around 12:30, then decided to hang around until 5:30 when the club would meet.
Our church has a garden I haven't gotten to go to, so I went and prayed and spent time with God and nature.
After a bit, I walked across the street to Barnes and Noble. I spent the time online primarily. I did get a "coconut creme frappachino" sample! I thought frappachinos were made with coffee, but apparently not. (I hate coffee.) It was quite good, and an unexpected treat.
Around 5:15 I went back across the street and the first meeting of "The Supper Club" met. I am pretty sure I was the youngest one there. The next youngest was probably my friend Will, who doesn't go to my church but had decided to come. Most were couples with children. It was a lot of fun. We decided to meet each six weeks.
Afterwards, I asked Will for a ride home... and he said sure, but did I want to go to Merge? Merge is a worship service and fellowship for young adults over at First Baptist Church of Spartanburg. I went to Merge a few weeks ago with my friend Emily, and I had seen Will there, so I knew he went to it.
I said sure, and we went.
We got there early and milled around socializing. Suddenly my eye was captured: there was a bulletin board on India. I went over and read it all avidly. This was at the Hangar, a building on the First Baptist Church of Spartanburg's campus.
As I type that I can't help but smile, wondering how alien that would seem to my Indian brothers and sisters. Ryan's church doesn't have a campus; they don't even have a building. They rent a building every Sunday. Each Sunday morning volunteers arrive to set up the chairs, then stay after the service to put them. So for ryan and my wedding in India, marrying in a church building is not an option.
That's not to say there are no church buildings... but there may not be in Ryan's city, I'm not sure. I know in Kolkatta (formerly Calcutta) there are many churches... but they are remnants of when the British had India as their colony and Calcutta was their capitol.
But in most of India, the building a church meets is either rented or they meet in homes. So the idea of having a "campus" (implying multiple buildings and meeting places) probably seems really alien to them. [May it be noted: I am not saying this against First Baptist Spartanburg. My own church has two buildings as well!]
Anyway, I had a great time at Merge. They have the kind of style of worship where there is a band with electric guitars and drums, with the lyrics projected on multiple screens. It's so loud that when you sing, you can't really hear the person beside you... I really like that. My own church is an electric organ, choir and hymnals... and I love that too. But it's nice that I can sing as loud or as crazy as I want and know I'm not embarrassing myself or those around me. The loudness makes it so it's both private and corporate worship simultaneously... this can be achieved in a quieter style, but it's harder.
At the end we were singing again (after the sermon) and I actually cried. I was worshiping and I was thinking of my future... and uncertainty... and was praising God. We were singing something about giving it all to God; I don't actually remember the words. But I remember thinking about what if I die for Christ? He is worth it. What if I suffer a slow painful bout of cancer? God is my treasure. What if Ryan and I lose a child? I will praise Him through the pain. What if I lose Ryan? He is still worthy. And I was swelling with love, and I also thought I shouldn't be so entirely dark. And I thought what if my life is so beautiful I can't stand it? What if I am blessed financially, am healthy, have beautiful children and a beautiful marriage? God is so good to us all. Sometimes we are drawn to God in suffering and don't depend on Him in times of plenty, but I want to praise Him always. I love Him so much, so I was in tears. It was a very holy experience.
At the end of the song, it turns out that during that song, a girl who was there had surrendered her life to Christ. My joy had already been so complete, but now it was incredibly multiplied. It was beautiful.
Afterwards we all went to a cafeteria type room next door for nachos and beverages. I had some good conversation and met a few new friends.
However, I was dead tired by the time I got home. I was wavering on my feet. But it was a blessed Sunday, some moments of which remain between me and God.
God, I love you. I'm following you as you lead the way to India!