There are times in your life when you have to let go of everything you know and reach out for something new; when you have to take a chance on the unknown and believe in yourself that you'll land on two feet. This is not one of those times.
Sure, I could play dramatic on your heartstrings, but this entry is not what its title suggests.
I have no crisis of faith. I have no doubt in my mind that God exists. I have no doubt He gave us His only son, Jesus Christ, for our sakes. I believe with absolute certainty in the Holy Trinity, the Blessed Mother Mary and the glory of Heaven. These are unshakable beliefs I possess, and I will always hold true to them.
Still, it was time for me to let go of what I know in terms of Sunday mornings and try something new. I needed to take a chance on a Sunday service unknown to me, and I did so with a firm belief that everything will okay. As such, Lee and I trekked down to Ybor City in Tampa with the kids to Relevant Church.
Why is this such a big deal? Well, I am a creature of habit for starters. I am also a cradle Catholic, and I have never attended a regular, weekly service (i.e. not a funeral or wedding) that was not a Catholic service. From a perspective of formality, I was going against 36 years of upbringing. I was going counter to my spiritual foundation.
Still, there we were, on the second floor of The Italian Club in Ybor City, staring at a stage setup with musical instruments and a Goin' Country theme. I was already feeling comfortable having been warmly received by several individuals, including the parents of the church's pastor, when all of the sudden I heard the familiar music of the Zac Brown Band.
"I thank God for my life, for the stars and stripes, may freedom forever fly, let it ring…."
I was sold. This was going to be a wonderful new experience.
Upon beginning with a greeting that included a mini-monster truck race (tough to explain but very funny to watch) and Christian music from the church's live band – three songs that can only be described as totally rock'n – the preacher, James Adair, began his sermon about Father's Day. However, sermon is not really the right word to use. It was more of a witness talk; a testimonial, if you will, about his experiences both with his dad and as a dad. James' words were not preachy nor overly evangelical. Rather, they were conversational, understandable and relatable.
In addition to being gracefully and tactfully intertwined with passages from the Bible, James' words were comforting and made me draw on my memories with both my dad and my kids. I am very fortunate to be able to say I have no holes on the retrospective thoughts of my father. As I've said before, if I can be half the dad to my kids that my father was to me, I will be alright. I also smiled at the thought of this new experience for my children, both of whom were one floor above us in the church's child development area.
Upon the conclusion of the service, both Natalie and Daniel presented me with hand-made Father's Day cards they made while Lee and I were taking in James' marvelous testimony. We wrapped up experience with lunch in Ybor with our friend Kurt, who introduced us to Relevant Church, and his two kids.
I am not sure if I am completely done with the Catholic Church. It's still hard for me to think I can simply walk away from all those years of homilies and Holy Communion. Still, it feels like forever since I've been excited about Sunday service, and I am really looking forward to making it out to Relevant next weekend. It's not necessarily a leap of faith, but it is a significant step for me in finding in my spirit what I feel has been lacking for quite some time now.