Monday, October 8, 2007

Upper Room experience...

Last night, I went with some friends to the Upper Room Community at Christ Presbyterian Church. It was a pretty amazing experience, and one that I shall not be quick to forget, I hope.

THE CHURCH: The church itself was a beautiful expression of worship, and it was nice to be with people primarily my age again (there is a severe shortage of young adults in the church I work for and it's killing me). As soon as I walked in, I felt moderately comfortable and welcomed, though the greeters seemed more inclined to welcome the people they knew vs. the people they didn't (which is natural, I guess). The unfortunate part was that the "congregants" were most homogenous, being caucasion, middle-upper class kids. There were some other minorities there, but I guess that it reflects the community of Edina. The worship time was simple, but powerful. As always, if the people show up to worship, God is worshipped and it's easy for the worship leaders to bring them into God's presence. Sometimes I feel like I'm dragging people into the presence of God when I lead, and that definitely wasn't the case last night. Many "artsy" expressions; lots of media, candles, and a prayer booth borrowed straight from the Catholics. Interesting stuff; I would definitely go back.

THE EXPERIENCE: What made the service so amazing was the opportunity to respond to the sermon speaker (I'm assuming he was one of the pastors) who shared his feelings of frustration with himself this summer on a short-term missions trip to Calcutta, India. As he was working with the lepers there, he felt somewhat revolted by physical contact with them, at times more concerned that he would catch the disease, instead of being concerned with touching, helping, and bringing healing to these ravashed people. The text of the night was Jonah, and the premise being Jonah's negative attitude towards the people of Nineveh because of their wickedness. While he sat in judgment of the people, desiring that God destroy them, the Lord revealed to Jonah that his heart was prideful and his attitude incorrect. Thus, the response of the night for the Upper Room Community, was to go to a place in the city that was our "Nineveh", a place where we could interact with people that made us uncomfortable, just as the Ninevites made Jonah feel uncomfortable.

Being new to the city, I didn't want to go anywhere and get seriously lost, as this just ruins my whole day. So I went with friends to Midtown, Minneapolis, a place specifically known by the police to be an area of prosititution activity. I have never met a prostitute, to be honest. So I was a little hesitant to go, not afraid of meeting a prostitute, but more afraid of talking to someone and getting it construed as solitication, then getting thrown in jail (which would of course just ruin the whole experience, ha). We got to Lake and Chicago street, which is right by the midtown transit center (see above picture). There really wasn't a whole lot going on down there on a Sunday night, but we got out, walked around, and then went through a guided prayer experience prepared by upper room staff.

This was a pretty amazing time for me, as I live in the suburbs and am very sheltered from city life, completely oblivious to some of the things that go on in the city. I didn't feel a specific revulsion for prostitutes, but I did feel uncomfortable being in the city at night, with it's many sounds and sights unfamiliar to me. However, it was an excellent reminder of the mission I have in following Christ, to follow Him to areas like this that are uncomfortable and maybe even revolting to me.

God in Heaven, remind me that I am to follow You, period. Also remind me that though I may carry my cross into "dens of the wicked", I will blend in just fine.

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