Thursday, May 3, 2007

Hard Times

It is a difficult time to be in the Church these days. It is hard to be clergy, and it is hard to be laity. I don’t have too much conversation with bishops any more, but I would guess it is hard to be a part of that august body too.

The reading of church news and the blognews of various takes on religious matters makes one weary. There are few stories of goodness and kindness being reported. There are even fewer reports of kindness and goodness being shown anywhere.

Attending church is often a surface endeavor depending on the size of the congregation. We say hello to friends, ask after their families and get the news. We may or may not hear a sermon that touches us where we hurt or where we question. We listen to music that mostly we cannot understand and sing hymns that are not of our era or musical bent. We might stay for coffee hour but generally we get to our cars in the parking lot before someone can enlist our help on a project.

We have failed to understand that we go to church, not for ourselves but for God. We pray to God, not for ourselves or others, but for God. We have a hard time realizing that what we are for is God, not for ourselves.

I do so want to go to a service that speaks to ME, but that is not what I really need from Church. I need a service that is going to keep me in touch with God. The service is for that communication, to keep that conduit going back and forth. The eucharist touches my soul if I let it. The touch of another’s hand at the bidding of the peace reminds me of my relationship with those I have offended and allows me to atone for my sins. The music and color reminds me that I am not just a head person, that God wants all of me.

I am not looking for brownie points in my attendance. I am looking for a connection and at present I have difficulty finding those connections to God being expressed in the Episcopal Church. Don’t get me wrong. I love the Church and I would not think to leave it. It is merely an observation that it is difficult to be constantly confronted with which side you are on, what position you take, your opinion about lgbt issues, women clergy, yadayada...

It is difficult to keep your eyes on Christ in all the kafuffle about who is in and who may not come to church or do things in the church for whatever reason.

The issue it seems to me is not who should be in the church but who IS there and are they hearing the Gospel of Christ’s love and welcome. And is that gospel real or some drivel that cannot be lived?

It is hard to address people each Sunday when those issues cannot be addressed because it isn’t kosher, or it is uncomfortable.

But the Christian life is not easy. And I am tired of those who try to teach that it is easy. We don’t have a crucifix on the wall for nothing. I go to Ft. Worth next week and the issues will all be there in full blown idiocy. Maybe I will find God there and maybe I won't. But on Mother's Day I will go with my mother to her church (not Episcopalian, not Lutheran) and try to make connections with my God.

1 comment:

Daniel Berry said...

I agree with this; and we only kid ourselves if we think we can make church or the Christian life easy. On the other hand, I think that to some degree, many people find it wholesome and even necessary to be able to find sanctuary with kindred spirits, regardless of where those souls stand on the current issues.