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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Dj Buddy B Goes to Church

I may be a fallen Catholic but it's not like I've fallen and I can't get up and, hallelujah!, I made it to church this Easter Sunday (albeit not a Catholic one). And, no, lightning did not strike either me or the church! At least not yet. 

I must confess (the Catholic deep inside, much like Madonna, loves a good confession whether on the dancefloor or an Act of Contrition for commercial purposes) that it was definitely watching GCB on the boob-tube every week that got me to thinking, "Hmmm, maybe church isn't such a drag after all!"

So, I tagged along with my friend to his place of worship, Middle Collegiate Church, in the East Village, this Easter morning. I mean, they have a float every year in the Gay Pride march, so how could I go wrong? Right?

MCC is a Protestant (Dutch Reform) house of worship that delivers truth in advertising with their motto: "Welcoming. Artistic. Inclusive. Bold." Gee, that should be my motto!

Because I had to use the men's room before I could get seated, we entered through the backdoor (my favorite way of entering and exiting a joint, anyways).  Here, I got to meet three female preachers and a Facebook Friend I'd yet to meet in real-life, who was every bit as fabulous as expected. I desperately wanted a cup of their java from what is essentially "backstage" to the church itself, but taking refreshments to your pew is a no-no, wouldn't you know know.

If all the world's a stage, I guess I can respectfully say that Middle Collegiate Church puts on a boffo show!  I realized that church service can be fun because it's basically performance art, although deeply felt and intended to drive home a message. I think, in my childhood, I heard so many negative and scolding messages from the (bully?) pulpit, I just tuned out. But today's messages were all very positive and I needed uplift! I needed to be inspired! I needed a positive word or two. I needed to see some of the men in the congregation wearing fabulous Easter bonnets!

The first thing that I check out in any church is its interior design, and Middle Collegiate passed my Cathedral Taste Test with flying colors. (I just couldn't pray in some whitewashed shack with a church bell on top, after all. Think about my reputation! (Ok, don't think about that.))

Gothic wooden rafters, stained glass windows, nicely designed pulpit and choir corral. Thumbs up!

To a packed house of adoring fans, we were treated to a choir that sang traditional hymns beautifully (these included Mendelsohn's "Prelude in C Major" and Handel's "Hallelujah!"); a brass quintet; organist and percussion that impressed. Plus a separate gospel choir (my Facebook Friend being part of this) that had people on their feet.

"He Lives," a rockin' gospel number featuring soloist Tina Owens, blew me away. I was movin' on up to the lower east side, children! Big Woo!

Honestly, I missed the incense, plus the little man-made grotto where the statue of St Bernadette prayed to the statue of the Virgin Mary under a string of twinkling colored lights, where we could kneel and light devotional candles at Our Lady of Lourdes, church of my childhood days. But we did not have entertainment on the order of Middle Church by any means! (Guess I'm saying it's a trade-off.)

My inner old-school Catholic got a little freaked by the touchy-feely stuff with strangers and even with my friend. (Holding hands, hugging? Yecch!) (Intimacy issues much?) I was also taken aback by the participation of the congregation. Applause! Clapping in rhythm to the gospel choir! Even standing O's! "Church shouldn't be this much fun," a voice within me warned. (Sister Mary Elizabeth, is that you in there?)

I loved the prayer and sermon (by a wonderfully animated preacher, Dr. Jacqui Lewis) that both touched me and was, on a personal plane, very relevant today. Even the puppet show with Frog and Toad won me over with its Easter message.

Middle Collegiate is church service the way it should be the world over, spreading the Christian message of unconditional love of fellow man, nurturing humanity with Jesus' message of peace, love and understanding. (And what's so funny about that, as Elvis Costello posed?)

I look at my program now for today's service. I read the message from the "Proof of Life" sermon. And, if anything, I'm glad to have taken this message away on Easter, to try to meditate on this week; this Spring; this time of rebirth and renewal that includes a milestone birthday:

"Every day, we have the opportunity to let old behaviors die so we can live into our best, higher self. What needs to die in you so that something else can live?"


  1. This has been my favorite piece from you. You seamlessly described that which was without with that which was within and created a professional review infused with brilliant pops of your personality colors. I feel like I get the message this church intends to give but I also feel like I get you better as well. Both are warm, and real, and fabulous. You must have been inspired. Writing doesn't get much better than this.

  2. Linda, that's so humbling. Thank you so much.