Yesterday, I attended church outside.
A thunderstorm swept through Virginia, D.C., and Maryland Friday night, leaving many of us stranded with no power, no internet, and no air conditioning in 95+ degree heat. I’m lucky – my grandparents have all three, and so we have been hiding out here, in the cool with our laptops.
But Saturday night, we slept at home, doors and windows open to catch whatever meager breeze existed. Sunday morning, our church services were cancelled. The high school was powerless, and we were left searching for a different service to attend. We Googled the churches that were planted by our church, spearheaded by pastors we listened to for a year or two before being sent off, searching for one that was still going to be worshipping in the morning.
One had no power, but they were still having a service.
So we ended up sitting on picnic benches and folding chairs in the shade of a tree by the baseball field of an elementary school.
We sang by the sounds of two guitars and a djembe, lyrics from the bulletin (or memory) instead of a screen.
My reclining beach chair was more comfortable than any pew I’d sat in, but it was low to the ground, and so I had a view of the preacher only when he happened to be standing between two bodies, instead of behind them.
In the back, I couldn’t hear all of the prayers, but I could recognize the sounds of “Lord, have mercy” and spoke “Hear our prayer” into the heat with everyone else.
I took Communion wearing shorts and sunglasses.
It all felt so wrong, and so, so right. I did not know the people around me, yet I belong. The tradition I am used too – the white-clothed communion table, Bibles in the pews, cross hanging at the front of the sanctuary – were replaced by the breeze and the birds and the gnats sneaking up on my legs.
But the Lord’s Prayer doesn’t change, and the Prayer for the Purity stays the same, and I know that God is here, and suddenly it feels like home.