On a plane somewhere between Nashville, TN and Los Angeles, CA: Because of my LA temporary residency, I haven't spent many Sundays in Nashville this fall, which means I haven't been visiting any churches as part of The Great Church Search. Last month looked to be the same until a little storm rolled through New York and cancelled our planned trip there, leaving me at home on a Sunday.
Since there was no time to reach out to anyone and invite myself to tag along, I decided to revisit a place from my past. I wanted familiar, easy to get to and a place where everybody know my name. I wanted Cheers. Or in this case, Mosaic.
I had discovered Mosaic six years ago when I was in an extremely dark place in my life. The churches I had been attending were not giving me the spiritual fulfillment I so desperately needed, so I went out on a limb and tried my first non-denominal church experience. Over the next year and a half, I made incredible friendships (which still remain intact to this day), learned about God and His teachings through a different lens that I was used to and started to understand that "doing life" with each other was just as (if not) more important than simply going to church once a week.
Aesthetics: When I first attended Mosaic, it was held a small, white chapel down the street from one of my favorite local music venues. Eventually it moved to a large room within a downtown restaurant. But now, it was housed in an office building on 9th Ave. & Commerce St. It reminds me of my alma matter, where it is wedged in the middle of the busy city, as opposed to it's own designated 'campus.'
Greeting: Even though this was a familiar place, I was a little worried that perhaps the people I had met from before may had forgotten me. It had been about four years since I'd been there and there are a lot of people that come and go there. As I headed into the room where the service was to be held, I immediately saw the pastor, Gary. I smiled and started to reintroduce myself. "Carolyn!" Gary exclaimed. "It's so great to see you!" I guess my worry of not being recognized - or worse - being scolded for being gone for so long - was only in my head.
Community: There were around 75 people in attendance, the majority Caucasian and five African Americans. It was comprised of mainly college students and young families, which was part of the reason I had eventually stopped attending (that, and because of my touring schedule). Back in the day, I felt like the focus had shifted from young professionals to these two new groups of people, which is fine, of course... unless you're not in either one of them.
Music: The music was - and still is - lead by one of the nicest guys I know, Thomas Rose of The Rose Factor. I was excited when I saw him leading the service, though bummed out that his super cute (and shorter than me!) wife, Dita, was in the seats and not on the stage. However, they did have a nice lineup of other musicians including two guitars, bass, drums, percussion, a violin and percussion. The songs were contemporary Christian and I had to giggle when I saw a bowl of earplugs available if the music was too loud. It was a very generous offer, though another church came to mind that it might be a better fit for.
Service: As in most of the non-denominational churches I have attended, the service was simple: a couple of songs, sending the children away, a video with words & images, another song, the sermon and a closing song. In a little over an hour, I was inspired by good music, a reflective message and a warm welcome.
Message: Gary is a the perfect likable guy. He lives on the East Side, is bald with a goatee and wears a great pair of glasses. He uses phrases like "I was cruising through first Thessalonians" and "let's dive into scripture." The theme of this service was on gratitude. After referencing some Bible verses and adding a personal story, he said "gratitude is the thermometer that indicates the state of our spiritual health. With gratitude, we are able to understand and receive God's grace." It's funny - I think I am fairly grateful for all the blessings in my life, but if I really look closely at my prayers, it starts out with something like: "Thank you for my job and my health and my relationships... but speaking of relationships, could you please work on my connection with so-and-so and I would really love to have...." My gratitude list quickly turns into a gimme list. I wonder what it would look like if I could simply be grateful for my entire life, as it is, with the good AND the bad, then perhaps the grace would follow, without the need to beg for it.
Denomination: Mosaic is non-denominational and believes in the gospel. It began with a group of people, sitting around a coffee house, talking about God. They asked, "Why can’t church be like this, sitting around in an informal environment discussing the things of Jesus?” And Mosaic was formed.
Overall: I'm a bit biased, of course, because I spent a good chunk of time here in the past. I love the fact that it is in middle of the downtown area, though I do miss the hip vibe of the original building (where I subsequently went to two weddings, one concert and did two photo shoots). The music, the service and the people are all wonderful, but as with some places (and people) in life, they are there exactly when you need them, then when you are ready, you feel the time to move on. Mosaic provided the tools for me to start talking about God with others in a real way. I have so much gratitude for the experience there years ago and still today.
9th Ave N & Commerce St
Nashville, TN 37203
Reflections on the Journey Thus Far: Since my decision to go to Mosaic was such a last minute one, I had forgotten to bring my notebook in which I had been journaling about my journey. Though I did find a scrap of paper to jot some notes down on, it was nice to simply be a part of the experience, rather than to be documenting the event for this blog.
One More Thing: I was slightly disheartened when I realized I wouldn't have anyone to share the experience. But I was grateful to be able to easily slip into a church without it being a big production. Then I saw my friend Jacob. He normally plays drums in the band but this week it was the other drummer's turn, which meant Jacob could sit with the peeps. Before I even had a chance to tell him what I was doing there, he pulled up a seat next to me and said, "we're going to lunch after this, right?" His offer was the living example of gratitude leading to grace.
It also lead to hot dogs, but I'm fairly certain that's not mentioned by name in the Bible.