Sometimes an attempt at humor is my best defense against deep, deep sadness and lack of understanding. So here goes….I’m grateful to belong to a congregation that disagrees over issues more significant than the color of the carpet.
I struggle to hold my own wishes at arm’s length when I listen to our oldest members lament the loss of church as they know and want church. More importantly, church as they have been able to hold it for so many years. It would be simple to enter into their sorrow if I had any hope that any church I intend will match my visions of church. The music I enjoy. Even once a quarter. A more meaningful worship service. Not in pews. With true interactivity. Communion as true meal. Not square cut cubes of stale bread or wafers. Worship as action in the community. Generosity of time and resources. Mercy. Grace. Beloved community. I’ll scoot over so you can sit by me. It’s ok, I’m broken, too. Come join us, we’ve heard the gospel message and our light shines in the darkness. It’s so bright you gotta wear shades! So when the old folks in my congregation about other activities taking over “their church”, the spaces they are saving for 6 days of the year, I tend toward bitterness and anger. Because I let myself believe they can control my experience. But only if I hand them the reigns.
There are gifts in this. I am called to reach further, to acknowledge that pain and sadness and loss is just that. And to be grateful that their holding on so tightly has forced me in other directions. It’s pulled me toward other wonderfully rich communities. I intentionally seek the contemporary music in the Methodists’ Faith Encounters and through Pandora. The gospel choirs led by Alphonso Simpson. The dixieland and second line jazz of CCDA in New Orleans and the Bucurie Quintet at the Jazz Worship Service. The Holiday Festival of Choirs. The Sing-a-long Messiah. The reign of God is broad and pervasive. It exists beyond the walls of the building in which I gather with the congregation.
Every fourth Sunday afternoon, the Great Banquet unfolds in front me, just as at the Great Banquet at Los Guido. Jesus shows up every single meal. With meals like that, it’s no wonder that a dried up square of bread is no comparison. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Humble of heart. Mercy. Grace. I experience them every single day. The crumbling old church building can’t contain them. There is too much light and power in those experiences. Time to stop worrying over and fighting against the craziness and step further into the light.