Here's a question from a very dear friend. If you saw the Journey Home show, you might be wondering the same things. So, I'll post a portion of the question and my reply. (Thanks to the one who sent the question - you know who you are - and you are very special to me!)
Can you tell me what an altar call is? I keep hearing that and I don't know what that means!
Also, I noticed that you got a little misty eyed when in your show when you were talking about accepting the Lord at his word about John 6. I found that was very powerful to listen to... as was your story, but especially that part. Can you tell me why you cried there?
Hugs & Blessings!
I would love to tell you about both those things. An altar call is an evangelical term for an invitation by the pastor to come forward (kind of like we do when we receive Holy Communion). But the person walks forward (alone, as those who have already done this don't go forward again). When you get to the front of the sanctuary, you kneel. You pray to Jesus and ask Him to come into your heart and be Lord of your life. Here's the thing that I find most interesting about this evangelical "tradition": As a Catholic (who was evangelical), it is very clear to me that the evangelicals are attempting to do what Catholics do. Only evangelicals don't see a need to receive more than once - and they don't receive Jesus in his complete fullness as we do in the Eucharist (Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity). At the core, though, it is something very similar to a spiritual communion. I suspect that the evangelicals do not even realize that they are striving to receive at least a small sliver of the Catholic Holy Communion in this "act". The evangelicals even retained the phrase "receive Jesus" or "receive Our Lord" - but again, it is spiritual (in mind/heart) and not the full understanding of needing to receive ALL of Him - and the 2000 year teaching of the Real Presence.
I probably should have spoken on the show about what had me so choked up about John 6. I just knew that I would lose it and so I kept trying to move forward. What I realized when I read John 6 with fresh and hungry eyes, is that Jesus is really coming to Catholics and He has always truly come to them. This JESUS that I had loved with my whole heart from that moment when I was just a little girl has been here all along. Fully. Completely. And I was filled with a desire to have ALL of this ONE who has been my heart's love. It was beyond words. Sad--because He had always been there, now realizing the one I love has always been there, and yet I did not know it.
It is like realizing that you have been in love with your dear (male) pen-pal for decades and you have anticipated the day of your wedding for decades, and now you realize that he didn't live on the other side of the world (and you only were able to "talk" to him) - he lives RIGHT DOWN THE STREET (in the Catholic Church) and this one you have loved for almost forever has been waiting all that time for you to discover how very close He really is.
So, sad. But also Joy because it was possible, if all of the obstacles of a first marriage and some doctrinal hangups were resolved, it would be possible to receive my greatest love.
Overwhleming, too. Because NOBODY in my family believes this (of course John and Jennifer do now - and John's stepmom/family and some cousins do). But nobody in my family. What do you do with that kind of Truth. And you know that you are the least likely voice that they would ever listen to on matters of faith.
Mysterious too. Because I knew I would never be able to talk to Dad about this, and yet in the mystery of God, I also knew that Dad already knew it - and was leading me from the other side.
Do you remember that I talked about teaching in a Catholic school? Each time we had school-wide Mass, I would have to stay seated while my students went forward. In the year of my conversion and especially those first few weeks after coming into the Church, I would think about a song we used to sing at that school during Communion - One Bread, One Body, One Lord of All, One Cup of blessing... I realized, too, that I was One with those students now, far more than I ever was as their teacher, because I was finally part of the Body of Christ, fully & completely.