Tag Archives: UCC

What I thought about FCC Riverside

 

On first look, its pretty daunting. Parking was a pain in the butt and the building looks a lot like the Catholic church my grandmother took me to when I was a kid.

But then I got inside. People were nice, they said hello to me and they weren’t even the “greeters” you see posted outside the entrance of every church on a Sunday morning. These were just people who were nice and friendly. Wow.

There were several openly gay couples that I could identify. The pastor is a woman. The thing I found most surprising were the amount of older people. Most of the older people I know are extremely against homosexuality and would probably feel extremely uncomfortable in a church like FCC Riverside. But they seemed perfectly at ease with everyone there.

It’s a smaller congregation than what I’ve been exposed to before, but not so small that it has that “small church feel” to it. The pastor greeted everyone after service and spoke with some people at length, asking how their families were and mentioning several family members by name. It was obvious she cared about her congregants and was actively involved in making sure they felt at home there. Most everyone wore name tags, but I didn’t see the table when I came in so I didn’t have one. The pastor was very gracious about it and even showed me where it was so I could get one next time I came.

I honestly felt more at home there than I have anywhere else. The people were friendly and obviously very accepting of different lifestyles. The service only lasted an hour and the sermon wasn’t very long at all, which I like. Most pastors can be very long-winded, and it honestly surprised me that the pastor was able to get her message across in such a small amount of time. One thing that shocked me though were the amount of people who didn’t have a bible with them. I only saw one other person besides myself with an open bible during the service, but then again, they had the text printed right in the bulletin, so I guess most people feel like they don’t have to bring a bible. I’m still going to bring mine though, I prefer to read from it and mark in my bible instead of holding onto a bunch of bulletin’s.

In the bulletin, there was an announcement about an inquirer’s class coming up next week with a name, email address, and phone number listed to sign up for the class. I immediately went home and attempted to email the person listed, but the email address didn’t work for some reason. I figured they probably wouldn’t answer the phone on a Sunday, so I called on Monday instead. I was leaving a message when the person answered the phone on Monday. She was very nice, answering all my questions and taking her time to explain everything to me. She took my information after I decided to sign up for the class and said she looked forward to meeting me this Sunday.

Overall, I had a great experience. I honestly felt more at home there than I have anywhere else in a very long time. I’ll definitely be going back, and probably getting there a little early.

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God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit: What the hell do I believe?

Religion has never been very popular with me. Some say I ask too many questions. Others say I don’t ask enough. Still others say I don’t have the proper respect for religion. Long story short, in my adult life I’ve had a very hard time finding the religion that suits my beliefs best. And I’m still not sure I’ve found the answer, but a comment on an older post of mine has got me thinking, again, about finding a church I can stick with. My last foray into the world of organized religion left me feeling like I had no place to go as far as a church home was concerned. I felt like I couldn’t be honest with the people at that particular church without being told I was going to hell for my beliefs. That doesn’t sit well with me, so its been a few months since I stepped foot in a church.

But back to the comment that inspired me to continue my search for a church I could live with. One of the many options the commenter presented to me was the United Church of Christ, and after much research, I’ve decided to check it out next Sunday. I’ll let you know how that goes, but today I’d like to examine what it is I believe. I think a lot of my problem is I’m not sure what it is I believe, and that has led to a lot of confusion on my part. So here goes nothing:

1. God: He’s real, and he cares about us. He takes an active interest in our lives and wants to see us succeed in this life. He also wants us to worship him in everything that we do, so our goal should be to live a good life that is pleasing to God. What that “good life” entails, as far as I am concerned, is between God and the individual. For me, its taking care of the people I love and speaking out on the injustices I see perpetrated by people today. It’s different for each and every one of us though, so please don’t think that just because I live my life one way that you have to live your life that way as well. What works for one person doesn’t work for a different person.

2. Jesus: I’m good with the idea of Jesus. What the Christian bible writes about his physical existence is where I have a problem, but that’s more of a problem with the whole bible than just this one aspect of it. I fully believe that he was/is real, I just think the writers of the bible may have gotten the time-table wrong. I fully believe in living the way that He taught His followers to live and that there is a real possibility that He did the things the bible claims He did. Does that make sense? I sure hope so. And I definitely believe that He is part of the Holy Trinity and was sent to earth to save God’s people. I haven’t decided if I believe that it happened the way the bible says it happened, but I definitely believe that He was sent here to be a Savior for God’s people.

3. Holy Spirit: This one is actually a little easier for me to believe. I believe that the Holy Spirit is real and that He helps us live a life pleasing to God. Why do I believe this? I believe that God cares for us and is concerned about what happens in our lives, but he doesn’t take an active role in the day-to-day happenings of our lives. Jesus was physically there for His followers and disciples, but He has ascended into heaven and is no longer physically here on earth to guide us the way He did when He was here on earth. So the Holy Spirit was sent to be an active participant in our lives, to help us live lives pleasing to God.

4. The bible: This is where I have a problem. While I believe it is useful to teach people how they should live, I can say with almost absolute certainty that it is not historically accurate, as has been proven again and again through scientific discovery. The bible claims that the earth is only a few thousand years old. Scientists have discovered dinosaur bones that are millions, if not billions or even trillions of years old. What I believe happened is simple. The earth land masses used to be one giant mass, called Pangaea:

but they eventually separated, forming the continents we know of today. Once that separation occurred, different cultures and religions were formed to accommodate the people of those continents. Without the seamless communication we enjoy now, these religions flourished in the cultures they were formed in, and the people of those religions firmly believed that their religion was the only way to God or whatever it was that they believed in. Once long ocean journeys were possible, the various religious movements decided to take their religion to other parts of the world, thus causing conflict with other cultures and religions. As far as the bible is concerned, I believe that it is good for moral teaching on how to live, but should not be considered historically accurate because of its obvious historical mistakes.

5. Christianity and religion in general: As you’ve heard me say before, and as I’ll probably say a million more times, people fuck shit up, and religion is no different. I believe very firmly that God wants us to be like Christ. He was sent to this earth to show people how to live their lives, and we should trust God enough to know that He only wants what is best for us. Anything above and beyond what is printed in the New Testament as spoken by Jesus should be viewed with a grain of salt in my opinion. And organized religion, as a whole, strikes me as incredibly rule based and increasingly untrustworthy, given their track record for excluding people who don’t believe exactly as they do or live lives contrary to “church teachings” (notice I said church teachings, not necessarily what the bible teaches). While having some form of organized religion in our lives (at least to me) is important, I think people need to realize that the people running these religions are just as human as you are and they make mistakes.

So that is what I believe. Take it or leave it, but I’m done writing for now.

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