I used to scoff at Christian testimonials. I would hear people talking about when and how they were saved and I would tune out. Once a young woman cornered me on the bus and asked me “Are you saved?” I wanted to say “From What?” But I didn’t really feel like being a smart ass that day.
Let me set the scene. I was the last weekend of September in the year of our Lord 2008. We were in the middle of an election and I read an article like this. The one that I read actually came out a week earlier but i had a problem finding it online. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/26/us/politics/26preach.html
Now this upset this lapsed Catholicmwho left the Church after the priest sex scandal. I didn’t really believe in God. But I still believed that Jesus was one of the best teachers and the most righteuous man to ever live. This stuck in my craw. So I did what any angry lapsed Catholic would do and I e-mailed those who were listed on Time Magazine’s tip 25 Evangelical leaders. Only someone from the Saddleback Church contacted me back. We spoke for almost An hour. Pastor Jim asked me if I am part of a faith community. I said no and I felt that instant like I was outside a building looking into a window criticizing but never taking part.
So that Friday I prayed for the first time in 6 years when I wasn’t flying thousands of miles above the earth in a tin can. I knew that I was going to look for a church, a faith family.
I was working at a Boston Store at the time and mentioned briefly that I was looking for a new church and A co-worker named Grace meantione Christ Presbyterian Church on Gorham and Brearly. I said “ the one with the giant floating Jesus?”she said “yes, they love and welcome everyone there”.
I went to the 9:00 service, that’s the more traditional service. I hate to say this but I don’t remember who greeted me. It was probably Norma Madsen. She is a woman with a heart larger than creation and a heart for God’s love and Justice. You ask someone at CPC who greeted them first, I would say it would be even odds that it was Norma.
But what really cemented the deal was God’s using CPC’s associate pastor Glen Reichelderfer and his guitar. There are three spiritual mentors I have had in my life. My childhood priest Father Turner, Glen Reichelderfer, and CPC’s lead pastor Dale Chapin.
That Sunday Glen had his guitar and was playing Bobby Dylan’s “You Gotta Serve Somebody”and his sermon was about how you are either serving God’s Kingdom or the Evil world. And he said that you could be social justice based or Evangelocal based but you are serving a god. You could be democrat or a republican. But you are serving God. I knew then and there that I was a social justice based evangelical born again Christian who god lead to a PCUSA church.
I liked the sermon so much I stayed for the contemporary worship service and I sang modern Christian songs like “ Here I Come to Worship” and “ Open the Eyes of My Heart”, songs that just a year earlier I cringed when the Time Life CD commercials came on TV.
I then went home and prayed. And I kid you not, I felt a warmth flow over my body. I felt the physical sensation of a heavenly being saying “everything’s going to be ok. I got this. I got you.” I then heard in the back of my head a choir singing “Let there be peace on Earth” one of my favorite hymns from my childhood.
I also felt an urgency, an anger even. That the Sarah Palins, the Jerry Falwells and the Pat Robertson’s who I thought Christianity was, robbed me of six years of being with God. Six years of knowing the path of transformation that only the Holy Spirit can provide. I can know answer that question. “Saved from what?”
I am saved not from an eternity in Hell. I am saved also from the Hell of my own making. The Hell of sin. The hell of fear, the Hell of hopelessness. I still sin, I still feel anxiety and hopelessness at times, but it is no longer my life. My life is one of Jesus.
And I knew that these people are a danger to people’s faith and part of my life’s work is to speak out against them and to reach seekers who were once like me.
This last year was tough on me. You can read my past blogs. Donald Trump was like a satanic atom bomb to my faith. I almost lost my faith but Glen, Dale, Norma, and dozens and dozens of others kept me in my faith. God is a Good and I thank Him several times a week that He saved me.
Glen Reichelderfer is no longer with CPC. He is in New York State and I have no doubt that God will use him to bring seekers to Him.
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