My last full day in London. That went really fast, but there was a lot crammed in these past two weeks. Annie and I got up this morning and we went to Hillsong Church’s London campus. Hillsong is famous for their worship music, so we thought we’d go to an actual service. It was in a theater where they have musicals and there was even security to get in. The first service didn’t start until 11 a.m., so we at least got to sleep in a bit.
We walked in and there were so many greeters in such a tight space, so we were welcomed 20 times before we hit the “sanctuary.” We walk into the theater to find a seat, which there were plenty of, and this woman asked if we needed a seat. We said we were looking and we’ll find one. She goes, “Oh follow me!” and she sits us in the third row. I grew up going to church, so I don’t mind where I sit in the building. But, I did notice this guy talking into a walkie talkie about needing more people to sit in the front haha. So I’m sure we weren’t the only ones roped into that. She leaves us and this other woman comes up to us and starts talking to us. She was asking if we went to church and I told her that we are from the Bible Belt of America and explained what that is. She asked what church was like in America and, just by looking at the stage, I told her it is not this “flashy.” She didn’t like that I called her church flashy. Oops. To me, it was and I couldn’t think of a better word at the time. Frontline would probably be a snooze fest to her. She was really nice and we talked about university and school. That’s when I noticed how young Hillsong is. I literally didn’t see anyone in the congregation over 30.
The music…wow. It was a concert. The worship singers looked like they were in a Justin Bieber music video. Coordinated colors, black skinny jeans, Adidas logos, leather… There were flashing lights and the whole place was jumping up and down. It was energetic to say the least. The ironic thing was that one of the song lyrics said something about how this is not a performance, it’s worship. I thought that was a little ironic. They also said, “hype” in a song. I don’t know why I found that so funny.
We worshipped, watched Hillsong commercials and heard the main pastor preach about giving all in the first 45 minutes. In senior Bible class, Mr. Hough said you can tell what the church values based on how long their sermons are. Normally Bible-based, conservative church’s sermons are 45-60 minutes and use the Bible frequently to teach. This message started at 11:50 a.m., since the speaker took time at the beginning introducing himself. His message this morning was a story about Caleb’s daughter asking for land and receiving it in the book of Joshua and it was titled “Ask.” Essentially, it was the prosperity gospel, which was made famous by Joel Osteen. The pastor was telling the congregation to ask, believe, receive. He used several examples of him asking God for a house with a view (how many houses does this guy have?) and receiving it. Ask for a better paying job, ask for a husband, ask for stuff and if you believe hard enough you will get it. This message told me that this church’s God is not God. It’s stuff. I was really bummed at the core of it all, because I was really excited to go to this church this morning. I believe that the prosperity gospel is a lie that Satan wants us to believe. I’ve written a blog about it here several years ago, so I won’t really get into it (anymore).
I looked at Annie and told her that I didn’t want to waste the better part of my Sunday and my last day in London listening to these lies. We got up, in the third row, and walked out in front of everyone. This was probably 20 minutes into the speaker telling us about the third house with a view he asked for and received. The funny thing was, not one of those greeters that said hi to us as we walked in, said bye to us when we walked out early.
Moving on from Hillsong, Annie and I went back to the flats where we ranted to our friends and chatted about the Ireland trip some of the girls took this weekend. Ireland looks so beautiful and they had such a great time. From the pictures that I saw, it looked like heaven on earth. We decided to get lunch at this Italian restaurant down from our flat. We were the only ones there, so we could be our loud American selves. Our waitress was really cool and she was dancing around the restaurant. Their playlist was really good. We talked, laughed and stuffed our faces with delicious Italian food for a few hours. It will be a great memory. We came back to the flats and I wrote my thank you notes to the site visits and did some packing. Our class had a pizza party tonight where we talked about the weekend and all the typical things that we’ve talked about in London. Now we are gearing up to go to other cities in England, which I’m really looking forward to for a change of scenery and pace. One week on the road then I get to go home! I’ve had such a great time so far, but nothing excites me more than home sweet home.
Lunch with my friends at the Italian restaurant