going to church with lucas

Where can I go to church? I asked Rodrigo at the door of my B&B. While he was thinking, he called out to a small boy walking down the road.
Lucas! Lucas! Are you going to church?
Lucas, in clean green top, new jeans and trainers, nodded.
Can you take this girl with you?
Lucas, with a 10 year old´s look of horror, nodded.

Lucas and I walked down the hill. Me chattering in spanguese, him getting more and more embarrassed as he passed his friends in the company of a gringa.

We got to the church - Igreja Universal. There is one of these shiny white and red buildings on every other block in Latin America. I´d never been brave enough to go inside though. But with Lucas solomenly holding the glass door open, we walked together up the steps. Inside was a huge conference hall with microphones, comfy chairs, stewards dressed in uniforms like air stewards, and lots of people.

You can sit anywhere, Lucas said (but please not with me and my friends!!) so I settled down next to a couple, and Lucas went on.

I gave thanks for the faith of the people gathered in Copacabana this morning. I gave thanks for their committment to live well, to be faithful people. I was glad of their singing and welcome. At one point a young girl came over and gave me a church newspaper that she had bought from the front to give away. It´s in my bag now, and whatever the theology within it, I am grateful for her generousity and care in giving me this gift.

We sang, we prayed - together, for others, for ourselves. We prayed outloud in a hum of voices, eyes closed and emotions bare for all to see. There was a sermon - from Mark 12 or 13 - at least that´s where the Bible´s around me were openned.

Of course, my understanding of church is different in many ways. I felt uneasy at the all male leadership and the corporate feel to the service. I questioned how many times the congreation were encouraged to give money - for CDs or Bibles, for a newsletter, and for their donations which were presented in gold string-tied purses. The money was placed on an open Bible, then placed in a sack. The givers walked on accross the stage to recieve a blessing with oil, and a card with a verse printed on it. I wondered about those who didn´t give. Where was their blessing?

But all in all, I was glad I went to church with Lucas. He, I think, was glad to shake my hand goodbye and run off home to play.


Fredo said…
I hate to rain on the parade, but Iglesia Universal is a scam. Everybody knows it.
Wolveskeith said…
Hi Rachel
I don't know whether you look at back stuff but Liz wondered whether you had managed to cerebralise(just made it up- should have a "Z" in it)anything for the Beckoner. If so could you blog it or email to me. Thanks
rachel said…
thanks fredo for your comment - I´m equally suspicious of many of the neo-pentecolstal USA backed churches that equate money with blessing etc. What I appreciated was the experience of attending a very different Sunday congregation and how that helped me reflect on my own sense of what church should and shouldn´t be. Thanks for stopping by

Keith! Just realised I don´t have your email so have emailed you via Chris and Sue - just need to know how many words Liz wants for the piece and that will be fine. R x