After my falling out with the Southern Baptists when I was in high school, I was invited by a friend to try out her church. Going in, my knowledge of Lutheranism was limited to what I'd heard about the Reformation in history classes, which wasn't a whole lot.
The liturgy threw me off completely. It took me months to get the hang of flipping back and forth between the liturgy and the hymns. Sometimes it felt like one of those Choose Your Own Adventure books: "For Sundays during Pentecost, skip to page X. For Sundays during Advent, skip to page Y." I didn't even know what Advent (or Lent, for that matter) actually was until I started going to the Lutheran church. I knew they made Advent calendars for Christmas and that some people gave stuff up for Lent, but I'd always figured that was just something people did in other parts of the country, like sledding. I didn't fully get the ideas behind the structure of the Lutheran service until I had to study the structure of the Catholic Mass in a music history class a few years later. But eventually I was able to at least follow along capably.
I never really cared for the service (although Setting I of the Lutheran Book of Worship was at least less dreary than Setting II), but they were nice enough people, and there were punch and cookies after most services, not to mention real wine in Communion! For those who don't know, Southern Baptists use grape juice, and they don't call it Communion--they call it "The Lord's Supper." So I was happy enough there, and I enjoyed the community service stuff I got to do with the Luther League.
While I only attended that church for a little over a year, that happened to overlap with my taking the SAT's, and in the demographic info, I checked "Lutheran" as my religious preference, which turned out to be pivotal. Shortly after the SAT's, I had a falling out with my Lutheran friend and figured it would be best if I stopped going to that church. However, I received a letter just before the start of my senior year from Texas Lutheran College (now Texas Lutheran University). It began something like, "We thought you might be interested in the benefits of a Lutheran education."
"Um, not really," I remember thinking.
However, the letter went on to say that because of my GPA and test scores, they'd give me $2000 off the top, which quickly turned "Not really" into "Keep talking." The short version: they were the highest bidder, so that's where I ended up after high school. That's when things really got interesting.
For next time: details about my time at TLU, and the effects of studying theology.