I chose Gospel Satellite Church for my first entry into this blog because of this picture. That's what their sign briefly said about a week ago. I went there fully expecting to be angered by some anti-gay hate justified by Jesus. But they didn't mention the gays at all.
The people there were quite friendly. Several members made a point to come over to introduce themselves and welcome the newcomer to their church.
The service began with a mini sermon from Brother Bob. It was all fairly standard stuff. Jesus, belief, and nonbelievers. I had to consciously keep myself from showing my amusement when he said, "Nonbelievers are uncomfortable around Christians." According to Brother Bob, we feel the holy spirit when we're around Christians, which makes us uncomfortable as we resist. Apparently, it has nothing to do with trying to understand how people believe things with no evidence or how those beliefs are so often used to justify hate and other inappropriate behavior.
After a pause to set up some stuff, a few words from pastor Ralph Barker, and a brief song, it was time for the prayer requests. Once again, Brother Bob was at the podium.
Bob started by mentioning a few church members and their various health issues. A few people from the crowd mentioned people they knew with health issues. Bob added his wife's toe to the list (she had dropped something on it and it was swollen), saying that God could do anything. He did not go into why God didn't prevent the injury.
Another man asked for prayers for his friend in Idaho, who was just diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Later in the prayer, Bob declared the man in Idaho didn't actually have cancer. Because of Jesus's power, of course.
A teenage girl, who didn't specifically ask for prayer, announced that she'd sprained her ankle for the 10th time. Bob offered to have the congregation pray specifically for her ankle after the service. He once again said that God can heal anything, still saying nothing about God's ability to prevent injury.
In the collecting of the prayer requests, Bob commented on the crowd being smaller than normal for them. He blamed the weather being nice, and he was probably right. People love Jesus, but many love a nice August morning outside more. Good for those people.
The talk of nice weather was followed by a story of a recent tornado that split just in time to miss the house of someone they all knew. Just as an aside, it was said that the tornado immediately after destroyed another house. The splitting of the tornado was, of course, credited to God's power. The other house that was destroyed was not mentioned again. I guess that family didn't love Jesus enough.
An elderly woman spoke up, not to pray for help, but to give thanks. She'd recently fallen and broken both wrists and hurt her knee. She was giving thanks that her injury was not worse. Yet again, nothing about injury prevention.
The actual prayer was pretty standard. Perhaps it was normal, for them, that he worked in some stuff about Israel and called himself an "adopted Jew", but I found it a bit strange. I'm not even sure what else to say about it.
Then was the musical interlude. I was a bit disappointed they didn't use the drumset that was sitting in the back, but they did use the keyboard, the piano, and a guitar. It was quality music, if you ignore the Jesus stuff. Only one song fit the theme of the sign outside this morning.
Pastor Ralph had led that song, and his sermon fit the theme. The rapture is coming soon, and events in Israel are how we know it. Also, Jesus will come back like a "thief in the night", so we can't know when it will be. It's soon because 7 is God's lucky number and we're in the 7 millennia of our existence.
We can't possibly know when it's going to happen, but it's going to be soon. Okay, Ralph. That makes perfect sense.
Ralph called the times of Noah the worst times in history. He was sure that everyone was happy, safe, and successful, but it was the worst times in history. Because they ignored God. That one actually does make sense. On that, Ralph and I are in agreement. Ignoring God leads to prosperity.
He brought up this story of Noah's time, to complain about today. God has been taken out of everything, prayer was taken out of school, the Ten Commandants were removed from courthouse lawns. All "Christians are being oppressed" greatest hits. He praised Dwight Eisenhower for having a prayer before political speeches. He's under the impression that no politicians today are openly religious. Ralph is funny.
On the way out, they were still friendly toward me, telling me they hoped I came back. A woman even pointed out to me that my Sharpie had fallen out of my pocket. I wonder how friendly they would be if we discussed marriage equality or the Separation of Church and State or if they knew why I carry the Sharpie.