So a few weeks ago I visited a church while staying with a friend. If you follow my blog, then you will know that it has been many moons since my last church visit and ages before that. No, I did not burst into flames or was struck by lightning from God’s wrath due to my absence. As always, the church was beautiful and everything went according to the church rituals.
It so happened that this was graduation week for that college town and so many visitors were there. I sat through the whole service and concluded that I only liked two aspect of the church service – the sermon which was done by a visiting pastor and the musical ensemble. I love classical music and it has been years since I was at a concert so it was nice to see and hear the ensemble. Everything else I could do without especially the closing prayer given by one of the graduating students.
Before I get to the self-serving revenge prayer, I have to talk about my issues with mass prayer. The first thing is kneeling. I was taught as a child to kneel on the floor to pray (I tried kneeling in bed but my parents would not have it). The problem is not the prayer but the fact that kneeling always hurts my knees and therefore is a distraction. Instead of taking my time to do a God talk moment, I rush through the prayer (and trying not to get into trouble with my parents as a kid) in order to end the torture on my knees. This is the same issue I have with church prayers, I just can’t focus because I can’t wait to quit kneeling and end the pain. The other thing is church mass prayers are designed to be so long-winded. When the person praying starts going on and on and on, then I naturally tune them out or find my mind wandering. I guess for me when it comes to prayer, I totally subscribe to the going into your closet to pray suggestion. I just don’t find public prayers as meaningful as they are intended to be.
So it was the end of the wonderful sermon (I got a really good lesson about expectations and never giving up when you fall). The gentleman came up to the pulpit to start his prayer. At first, I was not sure if he was preaching or praying. He had the intonation of a Southern black minister who was on a roll. At first I am thinking, is he flexing his ability to preach or was he attention seeking? If that was all, I would have been okay but then he started to use the pulpit and the prayer as a way to exact verbal revenge. I had no knowledge of the bur that started his fiery feelings but I deduced from his so-called prayer that he was not happy with some incident that involved him and school administration. He particularly asked divine guidance for the teachers and school president. However, the request was less than Godly and more rebuking (but with church appropriate words). As he continue into his preaching (disguised as prayer) long tirade, I could not help but wonder “why the hell are you using this venue to air your grievance?”
When did the pulpit become a place to curse those who did wrong to you? He is not the first person to do this. Many pastors will use the pulpit to air certain things and you know that they are speaking about a particular incident. As much I have
some many reservations about organized religion, I do not want to hear personal shit during the church hour on the days I actually attend a church service. The briefly unfortunate thing was this new graduate’s vengeance actually ruined a wonderful church moment for me. His prayer was unnecessarily preachy and over the top not to mention his obvious contempt for the school management. Once he was done with his verbal diarrhea my mood was saved by the ensemble playing to help usher the congregation out. Music saved the day.