I would like to hear about your final service....
I recall my last mass. I was absent for many years and felt like "something was missing". I didn't even realize I had become an atheist. As I stepped through the threshold, dipped my hand in the holy water and signed the cross, the familiar scent of incense, the soft droning organ music and the loud echo of the occasional cough brought back a flood of memories from being raised as a catholic school boy.
I sat there, my biggest concern that I had forgotten the apostles' creed, and would be "caught". Or that I would stand instead of kneel. The lady next to me smiled at me and was a great singer. Sometimes I think people who sing well really enjoy church more.
However, suddenly I started thinking "this is such bullshit". With each phrase from the priest and sheep-borg response I started to be repulsed. I no longer belonged. I felt like a fake, about to gag. At some point the priest mentioned how the parking lot needed repair and then the basket came around again, and I was like "really? why do you assholes send the fucking basket around twice". Oh yeah. I had changed. I started looking at the deceived flock around me. I had become a contemptuous observer instead of a willing participant. I looked at the twenty foot blonde-haired jesus nailed to his cross and thought, big fucking deal, my own grandmother suffered way more than you.
As I got in my car, I knew that was the last time.
This wasn't my last time in a church, but it was one of the best. My friend had died so we went to her funeral which was at an Episcopal church (I think). It was a beautiful church and there was a lot of kneeling, standing and pretending to sing.
At some time while the priest was saying whatever it was he said, someone in front of me started chortling. It was a quiet kind of laughter but it got louder the more she tried to stifle it. I tried so hard to ignore it but I started giggling too. It was infectious over on our side. Many guests had their hands over their mouths and their shoulders were moving up and down in futile attempts to not burst out in open laughter.
Finally someone lost it and that was it. Those of us sitting on that side of the church gave in and had a good long laugh. The priest gave us a minute or two to continue before good-naturedly going on with the service. He said Rosemary would have like that there was laughter at her funeral.
I don't even know what was funny but it was the best time I had ever had at a funeral.
I would go to church occasionally with my wife and her family to maintain domestic tranquility. Their church was a very close community, and the pastor was likeable and positive. Around '97, petty church politics drove out that likeable and positive pastor, and they brought in a fire & brimstone type to replace him.
About 15 minutes into the new pastor's "you're all going to hell" sermon, I leaned towards my wife and just said, "I'm done." I got up and walked out, and went down the street to a little cafe to drink coffee until church got out. I got some stink eye from my mother in law, but in private conversations with my wife and my father in law the response was, "I don't blame you. That guy sucked."
My family was Primitive baptist. And I got to where I would listen to the preacher the same way I watch Fox News, wondering how this comedy act could be taken seriously. Finally I asked my job to start scheduling me to work Sundays. No I never came out to my family as either gay or Atheist, Because I still rely on them too much. I may tell them after I become self sufficient in such a way that I'm sure I'll never need them again (Sue me, I'm a pragmatist). I'm honest with every stranger I meet, but not with my family. They taught me to lie if you love them so you wont hurt them. If I ever have a family of my own, that'll go out the window.
I went to church with my old college roommate - the one who initially helped me become a Christian in the first place. It was good. Nothing spectacular. I was however left wanting. Empty, and just as desperate as I was before. I did get to sing my favorite worship song at least!
I quit Catholicism 55 years ago and have been to three short funeral services, one in the late 1960s for my mom and two since 1996 for fellow war veterans.
During the last one about six years ago, the chaplain gave a short sermon in which he said the veteran was going to a new commander. He refreshed my dislike for religion and its insistence that believers take the submissive role in a dominant/submissive relationship.
Except my grandparents funerals, which happened to be held in churches, it was in December 1999 when I was in the military. Was given the choice between standing outside in freezing weather and strong winds, or going inside and being warm. At 63° north, approx. the same as Nome, you go inside. Before that I attended the Christmas sermon my last year in middle school, as it was part of my primary education, which was around the time I had pretty much left religion behind.
I have never gone to a church as a believer. The last time I attended a service it was because either my cadet band or one of the orchestras I played with had been commissioned to play music. It must have been a little over a decade ago.
I find the whole thing a little odd. If it was an open forum of theology, faith and spirituality, it might make more sense to me, but Sunday service seems rather one-sided to me. Perhaps there are other aspects of church life which are less so, but regardless of the veracity of Christianity, the whole Sunday service thing doesn't really work for me. Hymns can be kind of fun as a horn player as a relaxed change of pace, though that too would get rather dull quickly.