I must really love church.
About two weeks ago, my car of 48,000 miles stopped working. The battery light mysteriously went on, and a mechanic told me I needed a new battery. But the car was working fine, so we continued to drive it- until my dad took it for a trip and wound up stranded on the freeway, having to be pushed off by a highway patrol officer. The worst of it was that his cellphone had also just died, and so he had no way to reach me. I was getting worried after a couple hours, and finally got a call from him at the cellphone store, to tell me he'd had to lay out $100 for a new battery, and was now on his way back.
That battery lasted only a couple days, before it failed again. It turned out the problem was with the alternator, and we have therefore been trickle charging it every night since then, for about an hour's running time, in the day only. (We thankfully already had a trickle charger from the numerous RV breakdowns.) Run the car at night, with headlights, or in the rain, with windshield wipers, and you'll grind to a halt in about 15 minutes. We've already had to get it towed once, paying $15 for extra mileage after the free AAA miles.
I've found a country car junk yard with over 1,000 cars very close by, where a 90-day warranty alternator is available for only $50, and the manager of our complex can remove and replace the alternator for only $25 an hour. But he is very busy these days, and the alternator has to be removed before I can get a new one as there are a couple different models of alternator for this car and the junk yard needs to know which type before they replace it. This means the manager has to have free time to remove it, wait while I have to walk half an hour to the junk yard and get the part and walk back, and then replace it. And, of course, we need to find the money for all this. So at the moment, we continue to trickle charge every night. Which has worked for an hour's drive time. Until today.
I took my dad over to Damascus Road Church and dropped him off while I headed over to Mad City Church. It's hard to choose between the two. Both have real moves of God on them. The pastor that started Mad City has moved on to Damascus Road, and so they are very similar in style. Damascus Road has Matt & Siv Spransy and Joe Steinkie, the son of those who worked with my parents in Oconomowoc and Milwaukee in the beginnings of the Jesus Movement and Jesus People Milwaukee. Mad City has more small groups (which I find more meaningful than large worship service) and Dan Spransy, who was with me in HMS along with his parents. (I'm constantly running into people and at the church and asking if they know the Steinkie's and Spransy's, and then, having to correct and say, no, I'm speaking of Joe and Dan's parents. I feel old.) So for the moment, I'm liking Mad City a bit more, and my dad Damascus Road.
About five minutes drive out, the ABS indicator went off, indicating the battery was low. I thought this was perhaps a glitch, since it had been trickle-charged all night. I dropped my dad off and then went to Mad City.
Now, everyone has said that Damascus Road was set up just down the road from Mad City. I took them at their word. That was a mistake. Another mistake is that the address given for Mad City online is the address for their office, not where they meet. You have to really search to find the meeting address on their website. I had forgotten this, and foolishly wrote down the office address, which was just down the street from the meeting place of Damascus Road.
As soon as I realized I had the wrong address, I continued to drive up and down Washington Avenue, figuring it was just down the street and I would come to it. I called Dan for directions, but unbeknownst to me he was already prepping for leading worship at the time. I drove down till I could see the Capitol Building, realized I'd gone too far, and went the other direction. As I drove down to where I was sure the Mad City meeting place was, the odometer and speedometer suddenly failed. Not a good sign. Shortly thereafter, the car ran out of juice completely. I coasted to a stop in the middle of an intersection, and as cars honked at me for breaking down, I pushed the car over to a local sub sandwich shop, with the help of a Samaritan who stopped as well.
It was disappointing. It means that I'll have to pay for another tow, and for some reason the trickle charger didn't work. But, I was close to the church, and can just walk over to it as soon as I found its location. I found a phonebook, called Mad City's answering machine for directions, and spoke with a gas station attendant (who didn't know much about the area), and started walking- for I had the right direction, and was on one of the streets mentioned on Mad City's answering machine.
I walked down Stoughton Road. And walked. And walked. I tried to reach my brother to get GPS help, but he wasn't available. Occasionally I would yell out at a car to confirm I was still headed for the 12-18 interchange, and sometimes, they would answer me. At some point I realized that, indeed, Mad City was not just down the road from Damascus Road Church. And eventually, without warning, Stoughton Road went up a hill, and turned into a freeway. At that point, I can't turn around on foot without losing a lot of time, so I was stuck on a freeway, with no escape, for a large fence with small holes and barbed wire at the top bars all escape, and there are no exits for another mile.
Near despair of ever reaching the church, after a mile I saw to the right what looked suspiciously like the school Mad City meets at! I tried to hop the fence there, but the fence holes were too small for my feet. So like a mythical Cortes, I threw the books I was carrying over the fence, committing myself to the enterprise, and searched for a way across. I found one, where there were parallel bars across the fence, just down the road. The only hitch was it was under high-power lines, with obscured signs warning of electrocution and death. Carefully I climbed up and over, losing my hands-free in the process, and suffering only minimal puncture wounds as I traversed the fence. I retrieved my books, and walked over to the building, to discover that it was actually a clever mimic, and was St. Denis' Church.
However, a helpful brother at St. Denis drove me the last mile over to Mad City, where I arrived just in time to hear Tom say that there had never been a radical move of God in Madison, and wrap up his last three minutes of the sermon, after an hour and a half of service- a service I had planned on arriving too a few minutes early. Sure, there were grass stains on my pants, stigmata on my hands, and little fluids left in my body, but I had made it.
Now all I had to do was tear down with Dan, and wait for Matt & Siv to come over so we could go to lunch, and drive back and call AAA to come and tow the car back to Waunakee. That's how dedicated I am to this whole corporate worship thing. I must be very holy. If you doubt it, only look upon the hands.