Monday, July 2, 2012

Church-me-not

Found a post from Rachel Held Evans that perfectly expresses why I'm not going to church right now. I've posted it below:

In the summertime, the light darts through the slits in the blinds all gold and sudden—no gentle fade through purple and blue and gray to get you used to the idea of another day. I wake and listen to Dan breathe next to me. We stopped setting an alarm a long time ago.
Somewhere between 8 and 9, when the songbirds have settled down, I formulate my excuse:
Too far to the Orthodox Church.
Too late for the Episcopal Church.
Too liberal for the Baptist Church.
Too conservative for the Mainline Church.
Too protestant for the Catholic Church.
Too catholic for the Bible Church.
No one asks anymore, but I was raised to be ready with an answer. So the excuses are part of the routine now—like finally kicking off the covers, like my dark roast with cream, like checking email, like morning prayer:
 “Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to the beginning of this day. Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do, direct me to the fulfilling of your purposes; through Jesus Christ my Lord.” 
Have I fallen into sin?
Who will bring casseroles when I have a baby?
What I feel these days is not guilt, but something far more nefarious:  dull resignation. There are nearly 200 churches near my small, Southern town, and hundreds more if we make the long drive to Chattanooga, so the fact that I can’t seem to make it through a single service without questioning the existence of God says a lot more about me than it does about church, now doesn’t it?
Do I want a church that fits me, or a me that fits the church?
God makes sense to me under the trees, and God makes sense to me in poetry and prayer, and God makes sense to me in Eucharist and Baptism and community and even creeds...but not in the offering plate, not in the building campaign, not in the pastor-who-shall-not-be-questioned, not in the politics, not in the assumptions about what a good Christian girl ought to be.
Gentle, quiet.
Am I selfish for wanting more?
And who will bring casseroles when I have a baby?
I don’t know how to explain it—to my family, to my readers, to myself—that, despite the fact that I know these good people would love me unconditionally, I don’t want to go back. I don’t want to be the change. I don’t want to try anymore.
It’s 10:30 a.m., and I’m still tired
still tired from our failed church plant,
still tired from the local gossip,
still tired of being seen as a project and a prayer request because I believe the earth is more than 6,000 years old and that Anne Frank didn’t go to hell,
still tired of patriarchy,
still tired of feeling further away from myself when I am in church than when I am anywhere else in the world.
I don’t know how to explain it —to my family, to my readers, to myself—how, when my gay friends aren’t welcome at the Table and my sisters aren’t welcome at the pulpit, somehow I’m not welcome there either.  I feel at once pride and guilt, the Pharisee and the prostitute.
But who will bring casseroles when I have a baby?
“Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to the beginning of this day. Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do, direct me to the fulfilling of your purposes; through Jesus Christ my Lord.” 
The sun has now lit the whole house, and I pray regardless of whether the prayer feels right.
And hope that someday the same spirit will carry me back to church.

***
So, what goes through your head on Sunday mornings these days? 
 http://rachelheldevans.com/sunday-morning

4 comments:

Erin said...

And here's the comment I left on her blog:
On Sunday mornings, I feel rested and peaceful as I drink my coffee, feel the sun, and read Jesus in The Message. I feel grateful that I'm not fighting with my 9 year old about going to church, because he'd "much rather stay home, spend time with you (Mom), and read about God in the Bible". I feel weird because I don't feel weird about not going to church. I used to love, love, love church. And then, all of the sudden, I didn't.
I tell myself it's okay because I'm going to a 12-Step group and I'm still in small group with people from my old church. Although, with each passing day and more room to be loved by God, I'm realizing I don't need an excuse.
But the truth is, I miss a lot of things about church. The feeling of family, the laughter, the corporate worship, the warm teaching. One of my mentors is Karl Wheeler, co-pastor of The Refuge. So I'm sure you can understand that what I really want is people like Karl and April and Kathy and Jose and many others that I know in Colorado to surround me here in Austin. But where do I meet them if I don't meet them at church?
Lately, I've been wondering if I could meet them at a Farmer's Market, at work, at a concert, at the gym, on a walk, or at a coffee shop. I sure hope so.
Thank you so much for sharing this. I'm right there with ya.
Erin

karlwheeler said...

lovely! what we long for is a sense of safety, especially in relationships and what we get is a lot of crap that apparently needs to get done and we are not doing it sermons.
keep it up!

nancygrayce said...

This makes me sad in a number of ways. I love the "communion of the saints" and understand that all that means is all us sinners who believed we are saved by the sacrifice of one without sin get together to worship and love each other.

My son once said to me....I don't go to church because there's a bunch of hypocrites there. I replied that anytime I want or need to see a hypocrite all I have to do is look in the mirror. We are all sinners, all mistake makers, all gossip at some point, none love as we should. But in the end, when I walk into that group of believers, I know I'm where I am loved and where I can worship with others.

I do not believe that you have to be in church but I do believe we are made for fellowship both with God and with our fellow man.

Love to you!

Erin said...

Thanks Nancy. And I completely agree that being in community with others who are finding, figuring out, and living out their faith is a must. A lot of people need to go through the process of knowing God apart from church before they can be healthy in church.
Good to hear from you!
Erin