Christmas Eve, I went to St. John’s United Church of Christ, on the South Side of Indianapolis. I went with my mom and dad, my sister, her boyfriend Shane, and we were to meet up with my grandmother, my aunt Vicky, my cousin Ellen, and her boyfriend Dave. My grandmother attends midnight mass every single year, and has been a devoted member of that church for a very, very long time.
There’s a lot of history in this church, a lot that I don’t really know. My parents were married in this church. I believe my grandfather held his funeral here. The only time I see it is on Christmas Eve, at midnight.
For those that know me, you know that I’m not well versed at all, religiously. I have no idea when it comes to denominations. If you say Protestant to me, it means about as much as if you would have said Lutheran. Deer in the headlights. Clueless. Just a FYI.
Throughout the course of the night, I jotted down some notes on my (I almost said brochure) program.
First off, we seemed to be the only non-white people in attendance. I’m not sure if anyone else was aware of this or not, or if this is simply my racial paranoia kicking in. The last time I was here (two years ago), I definitely noticed some stares. But I was, along with my sister and her boyfriend, fairly underdressed at the time.
We hung our jackets and coats in a public coat room, and I removed my wallet, taking it from my coat pocket and putting it in my pant pocket. As I was sitting down in our pew, I suddenly had a question pop in my head: was the act of taking my wallet from my jacket some kind of lack of faith? Did that imply a lack of faith? Or was it plain old common sense to not leave your wallet in your jacket? This thought lingered on my mind for a good whle.
Throughout the service, there were many times where we were called to sing. Each time, I took a great deal of pleasure in the sound of my own voice. I used to sing in a choir in high school, and ever since I’ve missed it. Singing in a large group, contributing to something bigger than I could possibly be on my own. Even though it was a selfish thing to take pride in, I did. For some reason, I feel this worth noting.
Throughout the service, I participated in some elements and declined others. I did not take any bread, nor did I take any wine. When called to stand, I stood; but when called to pray, I kept my eyes open. I still tried to listen to everything, I just couldn’t bring myself to close my eyes if I didn’t really mean it. Other family members took bread and wine, even though they didn’t necessarily believe (we were all, more or less, in attendance because we knew it would make our grandmother very happy).
I guess the interesting thing about midnight mass for me was, I seemed to find ways to kick around the question of faith while I was there.