52 States in 8 Months

Jesús es el Señor, and approximately nine commandments

Posted in Newark by Ulf on December 11, 2008

bild38_staffhorst_kircheYou’ll never believe what I did today: I went to a church. No really! It’s Maranatha World Revival Church in Wilmington. And I even attended a service! My room mate Alvaro goes there regularly and he asked me if I would join him. I don’t remember the last time when I was in a church during a service. It probably was on Christmas Eve more than 10 years ago when my sister took part in some stage play. Today I’m so far away from religion, it’s almost frightening. When I talked to Alvaro during the ride to the church, I didn’t even remember how many commandments there are. I called them “a list of something between 8 and 10 things which you shall or shall not do” (later I figured out that there are 10 of them, but their division varies a bit from one denomination to the other).

When Alvaro asked me if I would join him, I thought of Tobias (who is a fellow student from Magdeburg), Ruth (who is from Stuttgart), Ania (who is from Poland), Hildegard and Fritz (my grandparents). They all have in common that they are very friendly, accommodating and helpful fellows. They all go to church on Sundays and none of them behaves like a missionary for the rest of the week. And at least Tobias, Ruth and Hildegard are very good cooks (Andi, can you tell about Ania in this respect?). I wonder if there is a connection between all these observations. Perhaps I was about to discover that “religious service” is just a code word for “cooking lessons”?

It was completely different from what I expected. The church itself looks more like a factory from the outside (forget about my drawing, click the link in the beginning of the post!). And there were two guys in black jackets waiting outside, so it looked a bit like a night club. But once I was inside, it was completely different once again. It was a single light room with modern furniture. Very sober, compared to a church like I had in mind. We were welcomed, especially me as I was new to this place.


Before the main session began everybody had prayers on his own. The video projector had a slideshow of the service schedule, some biblical sayings and a recurrent information about a defensive driving course organized by this community. It was a nice atmosphere to think about others, like for example my grandmother. She is blind on one eye since a couple of years, and now she is about to lose her sight on the other eye, too.

All at once the pastor went to the stage and his wife started to play the piano. He made us put our hands in the air and gave a very committed speech about Jesus and god. He spoke very fast, but the most fascinating thing was: it was bilingual. He said everything both in English and in Spanish. At least I think he said both the same, although the Spanish part always seemed to be a bit longer ;-).

The next section was the collective singing (we still had our hands up in the air, or at least in front of us). The song was mostly in Spanish, but it was shown in the projection with about 30 seconds of time delay. Therefore I could join the others in about the middle of each strophe. That was funny ;-). I understood absolutely nothing while they were singing, but with the words shown on the screen it was pretty simple. Religious texts seem to be very directly translatable. After the singing, there was another prayer. We asked god to heal all sick people and to care about the unemployment.

Altogether, it was very much like being on a rock concert. I mean, in pop songs, they do also sometimes sing about religion. That is not so different to what it was like for me. It’s probably different if these sentences about Jesus and god have a spiritual meaning for you. But that’s not the case for me. Anyway, I will probably visit this place one more time next year as their Sundays service will be different to what they do on Wednesdays. Amen.


4 Responses

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  1. Andreas said, on December 11, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    “defensive driving course” – könnte ein Grund sein warum er dich mitgenommen hat

  2. Ulf said, on December 11, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    I’m a very defensive driver! I always try to keep a large gap between me and the car behind me, so that it can’t rush into me ;-).

  3. […] Absolutely not. I’ve expressed my ignorance towards religion and similar stuff before. For me Jesus, God, the bible, religion and church is all the same. But Christmas is not among […]

  4. […] Spanish and likes the Hispanic service, we decided to join my room mate Alvaro who took us to the church in Wilmington. The service was quite different this time. They were using all the instruments this time, […]

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