Saturday, 3 October 2009

LA Church

I have toiled with this blog about church in LA, because it was so disappointing and therefore did not want my immediate feelings to dominate my writing,
On this sabbatical journey church is always a challenge. It begins with Google; searching, mapping, locating buses etc. I planned to go to a St Mary’s here but the buses worked against me, so I go to the cathedral. I wonder how St Paul did his church hopping without Google maps.
For those of you who don’t do church this might fit all your expectations. It was a vast building hiding a highly decorated interior. I brought a book from their bookshop before the service and spoke to a guy in the queue who was very nice and offered to take me for a beer, but I told him I was moving on the next day.
I sat in a pew on my own and waited for the service to begin trying to prepare myself, an indulgence I do not get to do often. There was music and a procession of the good and the great; robed, costumed and looking out of place in modern America. As a pack they make their way to the front of church. I am reminded of a German theologian who was on a lecture tour of America. On returning from church to his hosts for lunch he is asked, did you enjoy the service? He thinks before he answers. He replies in a dower German fashion. I never thought about enjoying church before. Here in LA we exchange the peace we receive the bread and wine and I hang about post service and have some free food. Not one person speaks me, no one. I don’t look like one of those dirty unwashed that sneak into church for warmth and free food. I like the German am not seeking entertainment. As we poorly attempt to sing the unknown hymns we are all I hope embarrassed by our lack of passion. Our response in the liturgy is void of the conviction that should bring to life the words that offer us and our neighbour an alternative world view. I am disappointed more so because these are my brother and sister Anglicans. I return to Downtown LA on the bus ignored. I wonder how many come to my church and experience something similar? I sit on the bus wondering did I not have enough faith.

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