Today has been one of theological ups and downs. I have decided that I cannot go back to Agape, and, sadly, there aren’t very many people I will even miss by not returning. I say this is sad because a person shouldn’t be able to attend a church for three and a half years, then leave, and not really miss anyone. I think I didn’t form attachments to many people because I didn’t feel like I could ever be myself, which I suppose I will wrestle with for most of my adult life in church.
On my way to church this morning, I prayed for God to change my heart, for God to meet me there, and for my own knowledge and pride not to get in my way. I found myself worshiping God in a way that I hadn’t in a long time. I felt at one with all God’s glory around me: the trees in their changing state, the fields being harvested, and the wind blowing forcefully through the trees. I felt like Celie in The Color Purple when she finally understood who God is: “Here’s the thing, say Shug. The thing I believe. God is inside you and inside everybody else. You come into this world with God. But only them that search for it inside find it. And sometimes it just manifest itself even if you not looking, or don’t know what you are looking for. Trouble do it for most folks, I think. […] God ain’t a he or a she, but a It.” I was reveling in the beauty of my body as I exercised, basking in God’s love. “Create in me a clean heart, put a new and right spirit within me,” I prayed with David, the Psalmist. I felt like my previous tension and even anger had been swept away by this 40 minutes of worship and prayer. When I walked into church a few minutes late, they were already taking communion. I interpreted this as a good sign. Surely, today would be different.
Aside from the new red and yellow stage lighting and the performative nature of the worship sets, I can live with change. I am not someone who despises things simply because they are new; I just expect things to change for some higher or better purpose, especially when they involve God, the Church, or things theological. I could feel my annoyance rising when I could tell that the service had been engineered to run seamlessly. My irritation continued to rise when attention was drawn to the fact that it was engineered in this manner, and we were expected to think that was cool and even lament the fact that it didn’t go off as planned.
My anger culminated when the Scripture we read was Acts 1. I wasn’t angry about reading Acts 1—Acts is one of my favorite books of the Bible, and I would consider it one of the most powerful—but I was angry at the fact that we read most of Acts 1, except PART of verse 14: “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” We were encouraged to understand that we should pray all the time, but we never discussed the revolutionary implications of a church who prays together, male and female, joined together. Similarly, when we talked about the Samaritan woman at the well a few Sundays ago, more attention was drawn to the fact that she was Samaritan than the fact that she was a woman. In fact, we also didn’t read part of that Scripture either. The part we neglected to read was John 4:27: “Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, ‘What do you want?’ or ‘Why are you talking with her?'” How can you tell, let alone try to apply an exegetical or hermeneutical understanding to, this story without mentioning the female aspect of it?
By the end of the service this morning I was filled with anger, disappointment, and a great sense of loss. I found myself mourning the great strides I had seen our church make over the past few years. They have been lost or abandoned in less than a couple of months. I lay hope in the fact that this style of service reaches someone. Obviously it reaches the people who go there, but it doesn’t reach me. I think God uses everything to reach out to this world, but it doesn’t mean that everything reaches everyone. I think it is better for my spiritual well-being if I just stop going and find somewhere that doesn’t provoke me to rage. This is difficult for me. I am not one to quit what I have started, but my spiritual health relies on my leaving. Bye, Agape. I mourn the loss of you.
I decided to try out Commonway Church tonight. I loved it. The worship was genuine; the message, given by a missionary to China, was thought-provoking; and, they actually do real things like go to movies with each other and talk about worldly ventures. I didn’t feel cloistered off from the real world. I felt like I was in the world, not of the world. I did not feel like I should be ashamed for listening to secular music, watching movies that are rated R, or thinking critically about the word. In fact, the speaker compared God’s glory and world recognition to the world-renown of Michael Jordan. Let’s face it. More people could probably pick Michael Jordan out of a line up than could pick Jesus out. It was good. I have found at least a temporary home.
I have decided to start listing my food consumption and exercise expenditure here. The purpose of this is two-fold: (1) I need to make sure I am eating properly. (2) If I list it here each day, it will encourage me to write more.
Exercise: walked the dogs 1.4 miles; ran for 39 minutes (3 miles); biked to church and home
Food: banana, juice, oatmeal, spaghetti with marinara, spaghetti squash, spinach, ice cream sandwich, two Twizzlers, popcorn, cheese, an apple, glass of chocolate milk
gonna need you to explain the God/Michael Jordan thing to me.
I am going to be writing my food intake down in blog form as well. I don’t know the site I’ll use yet, but I’ll let you know when I start it. Letting the world read what I’m eating will make me feel more accountable. I’m looking forward to hearing about your new journey at Commonway.