Riverside United Methodist

I thought my mom would be joining me for church this weekend, but due to illness (feel better mom!) and weather, she couldn’t make it to Columbus, and I ventured out alone.

I had already scouted out a Methodist church because my mom was raised Methodist, and I thought it would be the most comfortable for her. I also worked at a Methodist church for four years in high school and my early college days. It’s something I would love to go into, but right now isn’t the time. Recounting my time at Lindenwald United Methodist probably requires its own post.

Essentially, I think Methodist churches are the super chill, based on my limited experience. Short of a meditation service, Methodist church services have always seemed the most easygoing. Riverside UMC had two services, one that was labeled as “traditional” and one labeled “contemporary.” After the Anglican church I visited last week, I was ready for a contemporary service.

The service opened with a praise song that could only be described as very, very soft rock. Lots of gentle swaying in the crowd.  Although I would describe it as bland, it was leaps and bounds better than a hymn. They only provided a bulletin with the bible excerpts that were relevant for the service, and projected the lyrics to their soft Christian rock on a projector so you could try to sing along to a melody you don’t know. No flipping frantically to try find the right page of the hymnal, no pretending you know how to sight read.

They did something I freaking love that churches do, and had a “meet & greet” session where you walk around and say good morning to people. Normally, I don’t love being approached by strangers, but somehow in the warm blanket of a fellowship hall it’s very sweet to have a bunch of happy people in sweaters come up to me and say they’re glad to see me.

The sermon portion was short and sweet, and at first I wasn’t feeling a strong connection to it. Their January series focuses on awakening, which is relevant for my journey. Maybe it’s because it is the season of epiphany, but the beginning was about how we all need to wake up and consciously accept God. Like with the Anglican church, it felt like the service was made for my specific situation. But then, there was this kind of cringe-worthy video projected where a spirited teen recited a poem about how we’re all asleep, and we need to wake up and seek the Son (sun, get it? Because waking up) of God.

The actual sermon was specifically about repentance, since repentance is the first step of awakening. The pastor explained that repenting means “turning around,” which I did not know. And how when we repent, we need to turn around from the negative direction in which we are heading. It was a lot about removing sources of temptation, trying to consciously cut out the things that aren’t adding to our spiritual health and adding in intentional time to pray. I think that message is really pure, but I also am so immature in seeking religion I don’t feel shame for most of my temptations. I am also not making time to pray outside of church. I’m just dipping my toe in the pool of faith.

Then the pastor did something that just made my heart feel so full. He talked about Martin Luther King Jr, and how we will be remembering his birthday tomorrow. He said God used MLK to inspire an awakening in American civil rights for so many who had been asleep. He went on to say that particular awakening is not complete, and that America still needs to repent on racial sins. He said we still need to turn around, and orient ourselves towards Christ, which includes fostering equality. It was the closest I have ever been to yelling “Amen!” in a church.

The message felt relevant, and acknowledged shortcomings in modern society that, to me, seem so much more important than the materialism of Christmas. I appreciate when a church service can do more than just praise god. I like the positivity of the songs and sermons. I like the community feeling. However, I love that they can do a little more, and keep us thinking about more ways to be proactive in our lives.

I felt so inspired I wrote this post immediately, spiritual adrenaline pumping, my interest in this project renewed. It’s not shocking that the Methodist church felt like a better fit for me than the Anglican, especially since it’s one of the few denominations of Christianity I have firsthand experience with. I am appreciative I was able to go to the contemporary service they provided. I would go back to this church, simply for some positivity and a perfect excuse to take a one hour pause during a busy week.