I took a week off of the blog for mental health reasons. But I'm back and ready to tackle these last 10 or so with gusto! A couple weeks ago, I attended the Hill Air Force Base Protestant Chapel, a non-denominational mixture of various denominations serving the men and women who serve our country. (Fun sentence.)
How was the experience?
The chapel is on Hill Air Force Base. I'm a civilian, so I had to have a friend of mine take me who is in the Air Force as his guest. It was quite a fun experience going back to the Base. My grandpa was retired Air Force, so I'd been a few times when I was younger, plus a few field trips as a kid and some additional times with other Air Force friends. But I haven't been in at least five or six years.
The Base is exactly what you'd expect from a military base, lots of uniform, unmarked, nondescript buildings with various functions of both common knowledge and classified knowledge, housing complexes formed from the same cookie cutter blueprints, and then out of nowhere, a Popeye's Chicken. I took no pictures of the Base because I don't know what the rules are with that and better to err on the side of caution.
The chapel itself is a pretty nondescript building to match many of the others. But inside, it's really pretty, done with a modernist style
There's a basic altar in the center for communion, a cross in front of a curtain. I'm assuming the baptismal font is behind this curtain. There's also a pulpit on either side of the sanctuary and an area for the band behind one of the pulpits. The true beauty of the chapel is the modern, abstract stained glass windows.
I asked permission to take a couple photos, this is what I got.
Overall, very simple atmosphere as I expected on an Air Force base. But it was still very elegant and lovely.
There were only a handful of people there. Many of them seemed to be military wives with the kids. There were a few who definitely had the feel of being in the service. One of the chaplains came over and started talking to us.
He was a very sweet man, very soft spoken and radiated kindness. His background is Baptist, but he serves as a non-denominational chaplain for the military.
There was also a an in his early 20's from the choir who spoke to me. He was very nice, too. Had a sort of wide eyed idealism about him that I enjoyed and miss about myself.
In general, the people seemed like very nice, typical people. Nothing of major note to say, other than most of them are military or from military families.
Now, the primary reason I went is because I was told that it was essentially three different chaplains of three different Christian denominations trying to merge their different church practices and messages into one hybrid service. I was excited to see this for many reasons.
But, that's apparently the morning service. I went to the evening service. The evening service is run primarily by the Baptist chaplain who spoke with us, but also co-run by a chaplain from another denomination.
As such, the service followed a Baptist format pretty strictly. It had an opening prayer, a series of contemporary Christian songs, then a sermon. There were no frills to the service, and nothing I haven't seen in a number of other churches.
I was a bit disappointed that it wasn't what I was expecting. But it was still fun to see.
The sermon was on the Lord's Prayer with the focus being on the line "our daily bread." The chaplain began by talking about a canned food drive and how that was something that they were really focusing on.
He then talked about how we are an affluent people and most of us have food in abundance. Most of us will never know what it's like not to have food and to wonder where our next meal is coming from. But that it is the poor who know just how vital praying for daily bread is.
He told a few stories about praying for food in desperate times and how God miraculously provided for these people. These stories to me are always charming and definitely fill you with a feel good optimism, but my realist nature popped in with what always comes to mind when I hear faith promoting stories like that, Why does God dote on these people who need food, but not on the millions of truly destitute people living in abject poverty, many of whom will die of starvation. Many of these people are Christians, many are of other faiths. The only thing most of them ever did wrong was simply being born in the wrong part of the world at the wrong time. Why does God care so much for these English orphans in this Victorian era story the chaplain told, but not about modern kids starving in the horn of Africa? Why does God care that missionaries in China get food when they're hungry and down on their luck, but not that millions in China live on less than a dollar a day?
He then moved onto another portion of the sermon I was completely behind, the focus is on OUR daily bread. That it isn't about just feeding our own selves. That we must feed and share with our brothers and sisters. That it is our duty to share our abundance with those who have nothing. I want to hear more like this from the pulpit and less about people being rotten sinners who deserve nothing but the eternal flames of Hell. I want to hear less about how wicked gays are or how those who watch porn are going to Hell, and more about what we can do here and now to alleviate unjust suffering in this world. Because I promise, that would be the primary focus of Jesus if he were alive today.
Overall, I liked the message. The chaplain seemed very hard to try to keep the topic as general as possible due to the fact that it was an interdenominational service.
This wasn't what I was expecting. It ended up being much more of a Baptist-like service. But, I did enjoy it, it was a different experience going to a military base. Just more different in tone that way. Hard to explain in writing. I am grateful my friend got me on base to see it.
We're in the home stretch. Only a handful let. Thanks to all of you who have kept up with me. I'm very lucky and very grateful to all of you!
This coming week, I will be (hopefully) attending the mosque in Salt Lake. I'm very much looking forward to that.
Until next time, peace be with you.