Sunday, July 5, 2015

Unchurched Again This Sunday

I'm not in church this morning.


I've prayed over it because I want to find the fellowship and love and support and spirit that I had at my old church before the split between the deacons and pastor destroyed it.

I've cried over it because it breaks my heart to be sitting home again, trying to recharge my desire to search while at the same time unwilling to settle for a service that's almost it.

For a while I thought I'd found it, despite the one outspoken guy in Sunday School whose tirade against sin always began and ended with homosexuality. Then that same vein slipped into the pulpit, and the Supreme Court made its ruling, and I knew I just couldn't listen to that again, and again.

I'm not gay. I love and care for people who are homosexual. I can't be part of a worship that says because of their sexual orientation, they are damned or that says that if they were saved they'd go "straight."

I'm the grandmother of three, soon to be four, wonderful little girls whose sexuality isn't known to us yet. I can't take them to worship in a church where they could grow up hearing those words, and then discover that they were part of that group. I want to take them to a church where they'll still be loved and accepted, no matter who their heart tells them to love.

The simple fact is although I still remember the day I heard salvation's call and followed in the footsteps of Jesus into cold flowing waters, I'm closer to the woman at the well than I am to one of Jesus' disciples.

I'm not Jewish. I cannot live under the law and expect that I'm good enough to get to heaven. I have no illusions on that score. Yet for some reason, my fellow Christians seem to think that's what we are somehow supposed to do; not necessarily earn our salvation, but once we've asked for grace we're supposed to show we're good enough for it. The "if they're saved they'll stop sinning" summation.

People I love and care about are on that side of the coin as well. They don't preach against the "homosexual lifestyle" (I detest that term), but they do expect that anyone who comes from it will give it up if they are saved.

I'm sorry, but if they are saved but somehow not good enough, then neither am I. In fact, I'm not sure I know anyone who is. Why is that we pick a few Bible verses and say those things one doesn't do if they are consecrated to the Lord, while at the same time we've decided it's OK if we ignore others?

I've never murdered anyone, but at the same time I've committed sins that I've regretted but not always confessed or been as sorry about as I should. And although I profess to be Christian, according to Leviticus I sin regularly and don't expect that to change. I have tattoos and piercings. I've been married more than once and one of my ex's is still living (and no I won't return to him.) I wear pants and frequently they are blended fabric. I occasionally enjoy shellfish and pork.

So this morning I'm having not a crisis of faith, for I don't doubt God's existence or the love that sent Jesus to die for us all, but a crisis of religion.

I feel guilty for not voicing my views when my fellow church goer began blasting a particular lifestyle, but at the same time I feel it wouldn't have made a difference and would have only served to sow disharmony. I feel hurt that so many of my fellow Christians are so willing to walk on one another by not showing the same compassion to people they don't really know, but should love all the same.

I want to worship. I want a church where we learn how to be more Christlike. I want a church where we show the Lord's love for everyone by being loving ourselves.

I want to not have to put on an armor against my fellow churchgoers to avoid being hurt. That doesn't mean we all have to agree, but to be loving to one another and the world, we do have to sometimes keep our personal discomforts to ourselves. I understand how easy it is to fear and label and distance yourself from things you don't understand, but my personal experience puts me in another place and I also understand how painful those reactions are to people that Jesus loves.

So I'm not in church again this Sunday, but I'm not giving up, although I understand why so many people do. I'm visiting websites and researching and in another week or so I'll be ready to try again.

I'll put on my Sunday best, take a deep breath, and go to yet another strange church looking for the acceptance, the youth programs, the message, and most of all the feeling of God's love that my soul needs.

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