...is not always what it is cracked up to be. On Christmas Eve I visited the church I grew up in, Hope Lutheran, in Bozeman, MT. It was terrible. I have never felt so lonely in a worship community. My family was a huge part of this church even ten years ago, and now, I didn't know a soul in this church and have never met either pastor. This congregation built a huge new building about four years ago or so, and the space is pretty cold. Literally and figuratively. There are also four screens that project images and text (like a megachurch), a drum set, a sound booth, a big clock on the back wall. In other words, I didn't even recognize it. I was very impressed that the pastor was a non-manuscript preacher, but otherwise, nothing really stuck out. It was sad. There was even a wall of name tags in the foyer. They sang a praise and worship song during communion distribution. Ick. No one greeted us. No one seemed to care that we were there.
The whole experience of worship at this church was not anything that I could remember from the church I grew up in. Everyone seemed to be completely isolated and interested only in what was being fed to them from the projection screen. It felt like the audience (because it definitely didn't feel like a congregation) was just waiting for the next slide so that they could sing the song or read the text. They even projected the announcements and instructions about how to light your candle during Silent Night. The more things change...the more they still change. I will not be returning to this congregation for worship. In other news, I attended the other ELCA church in Bozeman and absolutely loved it.