… that would make me 50% Lutheran and 50% Catholic, anyway, so the fact that I, a Catholic, went to my first Lutheran service today, shouldn’t be that huge of a surprise, right? The fact that I liked it and would like to go back shouldn’t be a surprise either, right?
I really loved going to my first Lutheran service. I do love being Catholic… but you know, the Lutherans have a lot going for them. Their services really aren’t much different at all from a Catholic Mass (aside from the whole communion thing… details details). I arrived late with a friend and we sat in the front row because she was a music minister. At first it was kind of awkward… the non-Lutheran in the front row and all… especially the non-Lutheran who typically sits in the dark back row at her usual Sunday service… but it was easy to get over.
“First Reading” and “Second Reading” were changed to “First Lesson” and “Second Lesson.” There was still a Gospel message. There was still a lot of music. There was still prayer and some of the words were exactly the same. The confession prayer (whatever it’s called… even I don’t know) at the beginning was basically the exact same concept but with different words. One of my favorite moments at this service was when the sermon started. A woman came up and was talking, and I turned to my friend and asked her if anyone could give the sermon. And she said that usually the pastor gave the sermon. And I was perplexed at first why a woman was up there speaking when it was the pastor’s job to give the sermon… and then I saw the collar. I almost leapt for joy. I believe I made some kind of audible noise that the people around me could have picked up on when I said, “THE PASTOR IS A WOMAN!!! THAT’S SO AWESOME!!!!” And it was! And you see… the world didn’t fall apart. I was not distracted by her presence aside from the initial confusion. I didn’t think her being a woman took away from her message.
My second favorite moment occurred at communion. I wasn’t sure if I could actually receive it, or if I should, given the differences in theology… but the other pastor (a man, who was even involved in the choir, which I thought was great in itself… the fact that the priest had such an active role within the community itself) announced that the communion was open to everyone, regardless of faith or denomination. The bread was a gigantic loaf split in two and distributed among the congregation (there were even gluten-free options available for people with allergies), and each person picked up a cup for the wine to be poured into, rather than sip from a communal cup. I loved that I was welcome to receive communion despite my Catholic-ness (because the Catholic Church is rather exclusive about who can receive the body and blood), and feeling that connection with the community made me feel a stronger connection with Christ.
I genuinely enjoyed my experience. It’s not going to make me stop going to Catholic Mass, or convert… but I really enjoyed it. I also enjoyed being able to experience what it’s like being the odd man out when it comes to attending a church service… because for the past 3 years in college, my friend was the Lutheran at the Catholic Church. It was certainly an eye-opening experience.