Friday, August 28, 2015

A Lutheran church

Part of my "Church search" series..

One church we visited met in a school about a 10-minute walk from our house. We'd heard about it through the flyers they occasionally sent out about community events they organized. It turned out that it was a small Lutheran church plant, affiliated with a mid-sized Lutheran church a little further away. It was part of the Lutheran Church--Canada, which is the more conservative of the two biggest Lutheran denominations in Canada. (By the way, this shows just how divided Protestantism is--there are multiple Lutheran denominations, multiple Baptist denominations, several denominations called "Church of God," and who knows how many other subdivided denominations.)

This church used fairly contemporary music in its worship, and followed traditional liturgy, although didn't seem as traditional as Anglican or some other Lutheran churches. (We did visit one more liberal Lutheran church a couple of times too.) It was a small church, but had a decent number of young people. There were also a number of mentally and physically handicapped people that sometimes attended, and it was good to see how they were welcomed.

The first couple of times we visited, we didn't really connect with the people, and we continued visiting other churches or skipping church on Sundays for a while. But then one time we talked with the people some more and started feeling more of a connection there. We began to attend more regularly and even attended a few mid-week Bible studies at someone's house.

Although we were connecting reasonably well with people, I got a sense that this church was a bit too close to what I was used to. I got a sense of legalism (getting too hung up on following the rules) from some people. I also had a feeling that if I expressed some of my doubts or less conservative beliefs, that they may not understand or accept that as well as our previous church, but I'll admit I didn't really test this out.

I looked into some information about this Lutheran denomination and found out they do closed communion--not all Christians are welcome to take communion there; only those that agree with the church's beliefs about communion should participate. I didn't particularly like this, but decided to find out more.

The next time I was there when they had communion, Cathy wasn't there with me. I went forward, but I said to the pastor, "I'm not Lutheran. Is it OK for me to take communion here?"

"Let's talk after the service," he replied, and he said a blessing.

I sat back down, and soon the pastor sat beside me and asked if I would like to take communion. I said yes, so he served communion to me. After the service he gave me a short explanation of their beliefs about communion, that the body and blood of Jesus are really present in the bread and wine, and he explained a bit of the difference between that and Catholic beliefs, for example, that Lutherans don't have to do anything special if they spill the communion elements. (I assume this means Catholic priests need to do something special if they spill the it because it is the body and blood of Christ.)

I was somewhat familiar with this belief before that, and I said that I find it believable but I'm not sure about it. He said I'm welcome to take communion there any time.

Shortly before our daughter was born, the leadership of this church decided to shut it down temporarily while they tried to find a different location and work with other Lutheran churches in Edmonton to get some more people involved. I don't think it ever restarted.

We attended the "parent church" of this little church a few times that fall and winter. That church had the same pastor as this one, but we didn't connect with any others there.

Then spring came, daylight saving time started, and after the time change our daughter started waking up from her morning nap around 10:30, the same time that services started at that church. That didn't leave us enough time to get there without trying to change her nap schedule. And since we weren't feeling any sense of attachment to that church...

To be continued...

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