Mystery Worshipper: Campy Harold
Church: The Rapture
Location: Somewhere up there
Date of visit: Friday, 1 April 2016, 12:00am
Not a building, but a nebulous open space surrounded by a wall. At one point there was a huge gate framed by inlays of pearls and guarded by a bearded figure in a white robe holding a set of keys.
They appear to be into two things especially: (1) singing - there were several choirs of youngish looking individuals in white robes, and with wings on their backs, stationed at various places, all singing to beat the band; and (2) feasting - a huge table had been set, around which were seated a variety of folk. They all were enjoying carafes of wine being poured into overflowing cups; several loaves of bread; honey; milk - all seemed to be in endless supply. One hapless fellow, though, didn't appear to be dressed properly for the occasion and was unceremoniously shooed away.
Although there were clouds everywhere, there was a bright light coming from what appeared to be a long tunnel. At various points could be found billboards depicting a mustard plant; a man digging up treasure from a field; a woman mixing yeast into a bowl of dough; someone shucking oysters to get at the pearls; a wedding reception; etc.
No names were given. There was an old gent, very fatherly looking with a long flowing beard, partially concealed by clouds; a tall slender bearded young man with long hair, who gave the greeting and also preached; and someone dressed like a bird. There were two groups of men arguing animatedly among themselves as to whether the old gent and the young man were both responsible for the bird, or if only the old gent was. A woman dressed in blue, holding a baby in her arms, was trying to get them to stop arguing for just one second; both she and the baby were crying profusely.
What was the name of the service?The Rapture.
How full was the building?
It took me a while to count them all, but there were exactly 144,000 people present. Still plenty of room for more, though.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
The gent with the keys who was guarding the gate said, "Welcome to all those making a flying visit." He gave us a music sheet and rehearsed us in a rousing chorus of Irving Berlin's "Cheek to Cheek," while a video of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire dancing to the tune was projected onto a huge screen.
Was your pew comfortable?
No pews - we stood the whole time.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Hectic. More people kept arriving all the time. Most looked surprised both to be there and to look as good as they did, considering they had been dragged out of bed at such an ungodly hour. Some, however, had smug looks on their faces as if they were thinking, Well of course I'm here; what did you expect?
What were the exact opening words of the service?
The tall young bearded guy with the long hair said, "Well done, good and faithful servants."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
None. Everything was projected overhead.
What musical instruments were played?
Did anything distract you?
I was surprised to see so many people there who I never dreamed would be included. Likewise, I was dismayed to realize that so many who I thought would be there for sure were nowhere to be seen. Then again, several people seemed surprised to see me – and perhaps a bit disappointed!
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Pandemonium is the only word I can think of to describe it. There were long queues in front of tables where new bodies were available for people to try on; and similarly long queues in front of dressing rooms behind the tables. I'd say about half the people who emerged from the dressing rooms looked quite satisfied with their new bodies, but others made a dash for another table marked Exchanges.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
Seemed like an eternity.
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
10 – Several people around me said that they had heard better from the slender bearded chap – a sermon he once gave while standing on a mountainside came to mind – but he was just fine in my book. He spoke plainly but was utterly captivating.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
His text was the old Sunday school song "You can't get to heaven." One by one, he mentioned the various ways in which the song says you can't get to heaven ("You can't get to heaven on roller skates, 'cause you'd roll right by those pearly gates," "You can't get to heaven in a limousine, 'cause the Lord don't sell no gasoline," etc.) He exposed the fallacious logic of each, and concluded by showing that the one way the song does say that heaven is attainable ("Just dig a hole and pull me through") is in fact the one way that would prove to be impossible.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The whole service was like being in heaven.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
After everyone had finally been fitted with a suitable new body, a booming voice came out of a cloud: "All right, everybody, in case you haven't figured it out yet, April fool! Now depart from me, and be quick about it!"
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
No chance to hang around looking lost - we were all cleared out pretty quickly. If truth be told, I was happy to land back home in my bed. It was still the wee hours of the morning, after all.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Coffee was available for the taking for those who wanted it - I noted the brand was Chock Full O'Nuts. It was hot and tasty and lived up to the brand's slogan: "The heavenly coffee."
How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
10 – I expect it will be my regular some day.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, although I can't help but feel that it was all a dream.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?
To avoid eating pizza with peanut butter and anchovies before bedtime.