As we left (around 7:40am), Emilie commented that I could go to the Haitian church, since people seemed to be arriving for service. (And indeed, as I walked past, I noticed that the signboard suggested an 8am service.)
I opted to go home instead, for an assortment of reasons. Which I regret a little bit, since I feel like Easter would be the best time to go to service there. But I am glad I got to drop my stuff off at home and be on the Internet and etc.
I've had some interest in attending the Congregational Church of West Medford since FCS aided them in their process to become ONA, but their Sunday morning worship is at 10am, so that's a non-starter since I have SCBC Adult Ed from 9-10. But Adult Ed was canceled on account of Easter busyness, so I could go today.
I've been seriously considering not shopping for a new Sunday morning church -- to have sabbath time instead. I'm really glad I went to CCWM today, though.
My facebook status is: "Elizabeth kind of wants to draw hearts around the Congregational Church of West Medford (the male pastor's wife self-identifies as queer!) though that may be in part because I'm riding an Easter high (I got to sing the Hallelujah Chorus!)."
The opening hymn we sang "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" (New Century Hymnal). I felt like my heart wanted to lift up out of my chest.
They had a Ritual of the Flowers (which in conversation with the pastor afterward, apparently was a new idea this year) -- where the cross was covered in mesh and people went up and each put a carnation in -- transforming it into a Cross of Life.
They also gave out keychains that say "Alleluia" on one side, and on the other side: "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen! —Luke 24:5"
Unprompted by anything articulated in the Prayers of the People, the Pastoral Prayer included "anyone suffering from mental illness." +1
The sermon was on John 20:1-18 -- about being called by name and listening for our Call.
The closing song was Handel's "Hallelujah" Chorus -- and all were invited to come up and join the choir (they provided scores). I knew I was gonna be singing along anyway, so duh. (I was honestly surprised that not everyone got up.) A woman indicated where the soprano and alto sections were and I almost said, "You say that like I have any idea what I am." But instead I just stayed where I was and sang the part that the women behind me were singing (which was the top line) and restrained myself from just singing whatever the moving line was.
I went to the luncheon after service, but they were still prepping and there were few people there (though one person on the way over did greet me and talk to me), so I went back to the sanctuary to talk to the pastor (he'd been shaking hands at the exit -- which makes sense, to connect with people who aren't staying for fellowship meal).
I said I really liked the service -- explained why I wouldn't be back (pre-existing 9am commitment) and said it wasn't because I didn't like the service :) And he was totally fine with that.
I said it was a very UCC service -- I'd only had to de-/re-gender God a few times. He said something about inclusive language being an ongoing challenge because the male language is just so pervasive.
I said you learn to inclusify on the fly. He asked if I was in ministry. I said no, and said that church is basically what I do with my free time and my church stuff is based in Davis Square and FCS did morning prayer during Lent and I like lay reading so I got really practiced at getting rid of a lot of the male language on the fly.
I said that my home church is Cambridge Welcoming Ministries, "the radical queer church in Davis Square," and he was really interested in that -- said he didn't know of that church, but he'd like to visit, said that this church has an inclusive language policy and is ONA and etc. but that doesn't necessarily mean much.
His wife Nanette is studying at ANTS. She self-identifies as queer. ♥
They're from South Africa (she comes from an evangelical Pentecostal background; he grew up Christian Science, but when he found out they're anti-gay/anti-lesbian he left that church), which explains his accent despite his Greek name. He's been here a couple of years, will be here another 2-3 years -- this is just a temporary position -- but one of the first things he did when he started at this church was to push for them to become ONA, because it's just so important to him :)
He offered me to take additional keychains -- and then added, somewhat apologetically, "They're very 'he'..." I said I'd noticed -- that my workaround was that "He" is not here, because Jesus is not male, the resurrected and transfigured Christ is beyond gender.
So I took one for Ari (despite the male Jesus), one for my mom, and one each for my brother and future-sister-in-law.
Oh, and he and this woman Karen were talking about the lilies and allergies, and I said that at my church we're going to take out the yellow pollen bits with a wet paper towel before service, and he was like, "Oh, that's a great idea." See, I can be helpful in ways other than "please to be announcing aloud what the next hymn is rather than just relying on the bulletin and the songboard" (which I did not actually say, though I thought it).