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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Church, take two

Ahhhh, Church .
The reverberations of the post reached as far as the land-down-unda....

I received a comment this afternoon from a friend I first met twenty years ago... (Whaaaaaaat?!) during a particularily churchy experience. After attending Capernwray Harbour Bible Centre on Thetis Island, B.C., a group of tra-la-laa-ing young, fresh-faced students spent a few weeks one summer doing a bit of a stint across Canada, visiting our churches of origin and wow-ing them with our music and drama. In a dusty van, part way past Silberfeld church (our first stop) and somewhere before Vancouver, I met an irreverent, reverent, fiesty woman. Our sarcasm and love for laughter made us an instant value combo pack. What began as a shared experience on the "Whole Heart Tour", evolved into a friendship that found us sharing home, car, job,clothes, family, tears, laughs, and sometimes trading identities, just to see if we could convince people that it was actually I who was visiting from Australia, and Donna who was born and bred Manitoban. (the guys always found the Australian more fascinating. That was my incentive, I'll never know what Donna's was...)

There is likely enough to say for a few more posts, but it may entertain only me, and Donna (to honnah) and I'll spare you the agony. Suffice to say, that Donna's comment from far away in geography, and in lifetimes (we've not communicated for about 15 years....) is the impetus I needed to revisit the church theme.

There was something about the responses to that post which revived my nemesis: Fear of success, and Fear of failure. I suddenly felt as though I was wearing a lapel mic and had my car parked in the "guest speaker" spot in the parking lot. I felt self-conscious. It wasn't in a bad way, but awkward like the first time you sing into a microphone and recognize that you've shamelessly amplified your voice into an audience.

But the audience in this case sang back. And I've not re-joined the harmony until now.

And so, for all of you in the choir loft, here's what I mean to say. We are the church. We all have our parts, and they may or may not fit into an existing program. If we've been wounded by the very place that should offer healing, then let these be the gashes which God bleeds through. Let's not be cynical, nor naive. Let's not presume to have the answers. Let us always entertain the notion that we too, may be wrong, may be hurtful. Be gentle with those filled to capacity with idealisms, perfectly constructed boxes, impatient with shades of grey.

We've much to learn, as always. And the teacher, the Holy Spirit, has ways of teaching that are refreshingly unusual and unconventional. He doesn't run on standard time, but that doesn't equate unreliability. He can redeem time anyway, so all you've really got to do is be honest about your disappointments and questions.

And now, in closing...(shuffle, shuffle,) because I can't resist yanking your girdle just a little.... I can't believe its God's idea to put giant lighted billboards outside of church establishments and embellish them with cheesey quips. Bring back the "seeker service" if you must, but please, PLEASE, rearrange the letters that spell out disastrous nonsense like what I had to drive past all last summer on the way to my brother's hospital room:

So, you think this is HOT?
signed, GOD

5 comments:

Donna to Honour Showing Respect! said...

Hey, this is soooooo cool. I am so not a technology head. To be honest this is the first time I have ever written in cyber space. You even have to forgive me if it's not really cyber space because really I have no idea. My hubby set me up and I do know how to type! My kids think it's hilarious and I'm just glad that they can get a laugh. I have to confess that this morning I was in a real hurry, had a Canadian staying over with a friend from Denmark (friends of my niece), and they were interested in my trip photos from 20 years ago. I over the years had forgotten many names but not faces. Couldn't even remember the towns I'd stayed in and being young at the time did not think it important to record any of that info in my albumn. Finally we got a map out and sparks began to fly. Memories came back and hubby thought he'd google once again. We hit the jackpot!!!! Can't believe it! Then had to take the girls factory outlet shopping, so rushed my response, then worried about it all day.
Thought maybe it was a bit heavy for an introductory piece, but nevertheless it was heartfelt. I could not remember the names we called each other Joyce and became frustrated with my faltering memory. Then on the journey to the shops, all I could think was VIVACIOUS, JOYFUL. It all started flooding back! Anyway sorry this is not a direct comment relating to the church article this time but I do think it typical of God to speak to us all through each other, no matter where we are. A great picture of the church body!!! It's global!! That's why we can call Him 'Our Father'. I'd like to also say that I no longer find it helpful to point the finger at others (thinking thats a good message for them or if only they would get it!) because God takes us all on a personal journey in our walk with Him. If we were all at the same level of spirituality we could not continue to grow. It's in the journey that we learn forgiveness, tolerance, patience, acceptance etc. What is the scripture ( something along the lines of 'by this all men will know that you are my disciples!')? Was it love shown toward each other? Our enemies? Even dumb christians? oops maybe that was a bit too far? Anyway I'm on my soapbox now, will just get down and say this has been one great day! Look forward to talking again.

Anonymous said...

Did you really see that sign?? That is soooo bad....love works...fear doesn't...that's my theory....Lindalew

Joyce said...

Linda, I really did. And I tried to imagine how that message would feel to the hurting person who just learned they had an illness, or just lost a baby, or whose marriage just hit the rocks. They likely didn't think, "Say, I should take my broken heart over to those loving people over at that big church..."

Donna, I'd forgotten "vivacious, joyful!" I like what you say about God pacing us all, I don't believe he's as impatient with us, as we are with each other. (and yes, loving those stupid Christians falls in there. In my journey, that's the tough one for me. I can feel compassion towards the dirty, and the hurting and the confused, but people who come across as quite well arranged and self-righteous make me crazy. That's where grace really gets exercised. And I believe that its an excellent exercise at that.

it's a gong show... said...

"If we've been wounded by the very place that should offer healing, then let these be the gashes which God bleeds through." Amen sista!

I'm kinda in a rush right now so I will try and come back to comment more on this one. I liked it a lot!

Oh...and feel free to yank my girdle anytime ;)

Ruth said...

We all have our parts, and they may or may not fit into an existing program. If we've been wounded by the very place that should offer healing, then let these be the gashes which God bleeds through.

I reeeeeally like this part. thanks joyce!