This morning I got a message from an old friend, Terri. She and I were connected 20+ years ago by church, and our kids were about the same ages. I looked at some old photos from back then, and I read some posts from a facebook group that we have both joined, and then I checked out a blog entry from Jim Johnson, a gay-affirming blogger who posted worship songs. Altogether, plus other things I've been feeling, make it all so clear that I miss church.
What I don't miss is the "fairy-tale versions" of how life is supposed to turn out right if you trust God and "make the right choices." I don't miss hearing about how other people have problems because they didn't have faith, or enough faith. I don't miss the echoes of how bad the "gay activists" are polluting our country, because I have heard that exact reference. And I don't miss the ones who say, "the Lord led me..." or "God told me..." way more often than Moses ever heard from the Almighty.
But I miss being part of the group of people who are seeking to be part of a goodness bigger than themselves. Ones who are volunteering at the food bank, or collecting blankets for new unplanned and unexpected babies. I miss being the volunteer who opens my home to the youth group, so that the junior high kids can hang out and eat cookies here. I miss singing with all my heart to God, and expecting God to help me in my loneliness. (oh, wait, I still do that!) I miss having coffee and donuts in the basement of my old church, right before sending the kids to Sunday School to act all "hyper" because I gave them so much sugar (oh, wait, there is no proof that sugar actually does that!) I better get back to my point...
I really loved being part of a church where I fit in, and now I don't. It's hard for me to open up. I don't trust that God is real, at least not in the way I thought in the past. I'm still trying to sort what I was taught from what I have learned. What I was taught is that the Bible is ABSOLUTELY literal, and now I hold a different view. Even though I still believe that that Bible is to be trusted for guidance, and that God is its source, I think there are many cultural influences that have changed in the thousands of years since it was written, to now, for us, in the 21st Century.
It isn't just that I am now supporting and affirming of people who are gay/bi/trans. Once I realized that the "clobber passages" had different interpretations, I began to see that there is a lot that must be interpreted differently. I now see that Jesus might have come to really show us how to live in this world full of sinners, and that is to show love to ALL people. That isn't easy - it's hard, and I have to depend on God more than ever in order to do what Jesus asked of us: "Love God. Love others as you love yourself." It's not church in the old way, but something better.
I find it somewhat unhealthy to put myself through the gauntlet of walking with my head held high, trying to be part of a place that doesn't "fit" for me any more. At the same time, there are glimmers of hope that things are changing. I'm finding a few people who are gay-affirming. As we become more visible as straight allies, I KNOW more will come alongside me and all the ones who have been hurt by the church. If I can change to become gay-affirming, and reach out to even the ones who have yet to become so, perhaps we can make church BETTER. I think Jesus wants this, and God knows I sure need to be part of church.
Today is Sunday, and I want to go to church.