It’s been a long time since I’ve gone to church. About eight years. Partly because of laziness, partly because of some sense of guilt for not going for so long. I didn’t stay for everything, but I still got a lot out of it.
It’s amazing what memories and feelings come back when you go back to something that was such a big part of your life for so long. It’s also amazing what things you hear and what you pick-up on when you go to church and haven’t been in a while. The messages feel like they mean "more" than they did before. I caught myself being critical of words or phrases being used by the person speaking to the congregation – not really in a negative way, but more for being either too specific or too broad. By too specific, I mean that the message seemed to be focus only on certain people, and it could be misunderstood by "the others" as elitist. And on the broad words or phrases, it felt as though the message wasn’t well thought out, but just ‘recited’.
I couldn’t help but think back to all the talks and lessons I’ve given at church in years past, and wonder if I did the same thing. I’m sure I did. And I know that no matter what is being taught, everyone is at a different place in life and gets something different out of the lesson. At least, I think that’s the hope.
The message I left with today was about "increasing your capacity for love". It’s the congregation’s main goal for 2009. It’s a nice thought, but I was stuck on the word "capacity". I was stuck on that until the speaker gave an example from when he was in high school. He said he used to run a 100 meter dash every Tuesday – four times – all 1 minute apart. By the beginning of the fourth dash, he could hardly breath. And because of that, he hated Tuesdays. But by the end of the track season, he had increased his lung capacity and thus, his capacity to run four 100 meter dashes in a row.
Are the words "capacity" and "ability" interchangeable? I’m not sure. But I like the message anyway. I like the thought of "increasing your capacity for love". Maybe it means that by being nice to people more, later on it’s easier to do. Or maybe it just means that by pushing yourself to do "good things" every Tuesday, that by the end of the year, you won’t have to push yourself too hard to do those "good things".