May peace be with you
I went to church this morning! I hate to admit it, but I think this is the first time I've gone since moving here 2 years ago (and if I DID go, it's been long enough that I don't remember it). It's a Lutheran (which I kind of "picked" as my religion in my mid-20s--I'm not baptized or anything, though) church with absolutely breath-taking stained glass windows. (If I ever get married, this is totally the church in which I'd like to do it.)
At the beginning of the service, they asked first time visitors to raise their hands and introduce themselves. There were a good 150-200 people there, so--yeah, no thank you. I did, however, stop to talk to the pastor (in his 50s or 60s) and the assistant pastor (late 20s) on my way out.
Here was the conversation:
Me: (I introduced myself, and we spent about 30 seconds as he tried to master my last name, LOL.)
Pastor 1 (the older one): "Is that with a C?" he finally asked.
Me: "No, it's with a K-R-Z-Y-S."
P1: "Well, that's a doozy." LOL
Me: "Yeah. I'm pretty Polish." (Pretty Polish??? I'm such a dork.) "And I should confess that I'm a first time visitor and didn't raise my hand."
P1: "Well, that's quite all right, Jennifer. You are officially forgiven." He smiled and asked, "So what brought you here today?"
Me: "Oh, you know. I'm just kind of scouting the place out."
(YES, I ACTUALLY SAID THAT. LOLOL)
P1: "Well, I'm honored that you chose to scout us out today. I've been there myself."
(I really liked him)
Then he introduced me to P2, who also spent about 30 seconds trying to "get" my last name.
Me: "Yeah, it tripped him up, too", which made P2 laugh pretty hard.
P2: "So, are you new to the area?"
Me: "No...just new to...church, I guess."
P2: "Well, thank you so much for coming. I hope we'll see you again."
What made this exchange so important is that it took place as we were all filing out of the sanctuary. There was a huge line of people behind me, and they took the time to truly welcome me, talk to me and learn about me. I really liked that. Plus, there was no pressure or anything, no trying to "sell" the church. They made me feel welcome and comfortable--and that was all.
And THAT'S why I think I found my new church.
PS--I didn't do the wafer-and-wine thing, otherwise known to you religious folk out there as "communion." I've never done it, actually. Many faiths, including Lutheran, allow those who are unbaptized to participate, as long as you share the fundamental beliefs, but I decided early on that I don't want to do it until I'm officially baptized. I don't know why, but it's something that's important to me. Symbolic, I guess.