I’ve been here in Walla Walla nearly three months. In that time I’ve gone to church about five times, I think. Living here without my parents is strange that way. Even if they were in the same town, I’d feel a need to get out of bed and show up at church.
I still do feel that need. I want to go to church. After a few weeks in Walla Walla, I was feeling a little lonely and started to realize just how blessed our little church is back in Wallowa County, Oregon. I was shy, I didn’t talk to everyone or know all the people very well. But they’re good people. Everything we did together was rich and warm. Even the classroom that our construction talent turned into a cozy chapel seems more warm, welcoming, and personal than any other church I’ve visited.
I miss the community touch that I had every Sunday. We’re ever so slowly trying to find a similar church here. I have my eye on Covenant Presbyterian Church. Many parts of the service are similar and hey, it’s within walking distance. A week or two ago we visited a baptist church that seemed solid, but I only saw one young family, and I’m not sure I can deal with that. The diversity of age and background at Christ Covenant is spectacular. Not so here.
Today I once again visited Blue Mountain Community Church (what a creative name). It reminds me somewhat of the church my grandparents used to go to. Every time we visited over the weekend, my brother and I would later agree that it was all very shallow.
The fact that the worship service begins at 10:15 seems to be a perk for me, however. Somehow, Saturday is the day I stay up latest on. You might think I would take up the life of a night owl being without a job, but usually I go to bed and get up at a reasonable time. Job hunting is actually much easier during business hours, it turns out. But Saturday night is my stupid night and 10:15 works out.
I walked in this morning right on time, unlike last week when I arrived 2 minutes before the service ended. That gave me a terrible feeling. So the praise songs begin and I sing along, warming up my voice as I go. A mustached guy in a chambray shirt bobs on stage, playing guitar and singing in a passionate voice, alternately fake shouting unintelligible lyrics not present on the projector screen. Applause erupts after a pitch perfect performance. To me, of course, this is not a surprise, but not what I’m used to at all. I don’t even know some of the songs.
But I stay standing in front of my bench in the back and sing them anyway. These people are all still Christians, or at least they say they are and I have no reason to not believe it. It’s all a little pentecostal, but it’s still a church and these songs can still be worship, even if they sound like Coldplay.
As I was about to pop some Stride to cover my cover my coffee breath and general lack of toothbrushing, my friend walked by with his daughter and nudged me. Took me a minute to recognize him sitting in the pew in front of me.
The sermon was basically about having family that God gives you—I think the idea was, here we are together in this church, we are a family to each other. I can dig that. After the service I slipped up to my friend and chatted for a few minutes. He left and I found my friend Ruben, an associate pastor there, and followed him around for a few minutes.
For me, that makes a good day, especially a good Sunday. Connecting with people who love me. At Christ Covenant, we called formally called that fellowship. Even our monthly church potlucks are called Fellowship Feasts. It’s all about being together.