So I had been trying to figure out if there were any Protestant churches in Paris that share similar philosophy with the UCC, of which my church back home is a member. I emailed the Wider Church Ministries, and was told that the UCC has a partnership with l'Église Reformée de France (reformed church of France), and that there is one right near my house!
I decided to go to service this morning, and it was one of the best decisions I have made here. I had been there not 5 minutes when an elderly woman named Genevieve introduced herself to me, found out it was my first time there, and took it upon herself to introduce me to the people nearby, and tell me how the services work, etc, and sat next to me for the service. She was such a lovely, funny, kind woman; I really do feel I was blessed to have met her. While I didn't understand all that was said in the sermon, I got a feeling that I had come upon a tight-knit community, one similar to my church in Marshfield. Everyone was light-hearted, the service wasn't overly somber or long (just one hour).
Towards the end of the service, I found myself overcome with emotion, and even as I write now I am feeling the same way. I just honestly think that God wanted me to find this church, this community. I have always considered myself to be more spiritual than religious, I view church as a community that houses people of various spiritual journeys but similar philosophy and personality. I also believe that for me at least, community is an important part of faith, and that while I don't believe one needs to go to church to be Christian or to believe in God, I do believe that having a church community can be an enriching experience, and I always regretted not going to the UCC church that was a few blocks from Tufts during the year.
I found my eyes tearing up a bit, and felt a lump in my throat that I recognized not as homesickness, but happiness. I at once felt accepted, welcomed even, in a community of people that I had never even met, and as weird as it may sound to my atheist friends who are reading this, I really felt God's presence, this divine happiness and loving feeling that I can't find the words to explain. Haha, I guess one would just call it a 'religious experience'.
I miss my church community back home; I miss the quirkiness of our congregation, the joviality, the warmth of Reverend Pam, the friendship and love that you can almost taste when you walk in on Sunday morning. But I'm happy to have found community here, and that this is a new adventure to embark on.