Chris and I went to church this morning.
That's right, church.
Only this church has no crosses in it, no mention of sin, and free tea.
I tried convincing Chris that the tea was not really "free"..."you're suppose to make a donation." He argued that his presence was his donation.
As I was formulating my rebuttal to his oh-so altruistic argument, a woman came to sit with us and introduced herself as Sharon. She asked us where we were from and how we found the church.
We explained that Chris was raised Catholic and I was raised Methodist and now that we're getting married we're looking for a church we both enjoy.
She informed us that she too had been raised Methodist and that the minister had been raised Catholic. She said that she had always known she wasn't a Methodist though. She went on to tell us how she was kicked out of her 3rd grade Sunday school class for laughing out loud about the part where Jesus walks on water.
I could relate to her story. I have a hard time with the "miracle" (that's right, I used quotation marks) parts of the Bible.
I was about to ask her more questions when a man with a mallet came out to the coffee area and struck a big circular plate which appeared to be a gong. It resonated its gong sound throughout the lobby and summoned everyone to enter the sanctuary.
I went to put down my "free" coffee and Chris's "free" tea when no-more Methodist Sharon told us to just bring it right in with us.
Sure enough, inside people had everything from mugs, to Starbucks cups to knitting materials.
We started by singing an African-American "easy swing" slave song. The whole ceremony was centered around MLK since his big day is tomorrow.
There was no southern-Baptist style clapping. Just singing.
When it was time to light the candle and start the service one man in the back clapped.
There was a bilingual doxology, the minister played the harmonica during the children's hour, and a sixty year old hippie joined the minister for the sermon.
The hippie brought his jacket with buttons such as "Evict Nixon", and one with a guitar, a hand grenade and a smoke pipe that read "Togetherness."
After the ceremony, the Catholic-no-more minister welcomed us and answered some of our questions.
Now, before you go thinking this is way too left and everything you own should go in a box to the left, to the left...here are the church's seven principles (in child-centered language):
1. We believe that each person is important
2. We believe that all people should be treated fairly and kindly
3. We believe that we should accept one another and keep on learning together.
4. We believe that each person should be free to search for what is true and right in life.
5. We believe that everyone should have a vote about things that concern them.
6. We believe in working for a peaceful, fair and free world.
7. We believe in caring for our planet earth, the home we share with all living things.
I haven't told you what church this is because I want you to leave all your prejudices and preconceived stereotypes at the door.
Reflect for a day or so on those seven principles and how you would feel about belonging to a church like this.
I'm going to do the same and in a few days I'll let you know where we might now be getting our free tea and coffee on Sunday mornings.