Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Letter To a Wounded Christian

[I received a letter offline from a reader of this blog, responding to my post about how much ministry I have received as a visitor at other churches. She said she moved to the Bible Belt and has not been feeling good about her church, and has stayed away. However, staying away has hurt her, and so she is searching for a community but having a hard time finding one that doesn't preach a highly tarnished gospel. Below, I share my response to her.
- PB]

Dear [Name],

I'm so glad that you wrote, and reached out to me. I feel honored that you've done so.

It hurts me to hear you say that you're hearing so much hatred spread in the name of Christ, but I have no doubt that that is exactly what you're hearing and experiencing. Happens all the time. Breaks all our hearts.

I think about this a lot: it's hard to be a member of the Christian family when there are so many sick and f&*d up members of that family. We are baptized into one Body, and sometimes there are limbs we'd just like to cut off.
But we don't get to. That big love dork named Jesus tells us we're supposed to pray for each other, and even love one another.

I know for myself that I cannot bring myself to love many of my Christian brothers and sisters -- except in that really distanced, "I-love-you-because-you're-one-of-God's-children-and-I-know-God-needs-me-to-love-you" kind of way. Meanwhile, I hold a hard heart against them, even in my prayers. I feel we are in a battle, and I want my side to win. Period. That's the Unitarian Universalist part of me, perhaps: to feel able to discern what is right and wrong through the divine gift of my own conscience and consciousness. I know I'm wrong about many things, but dammit, THEY'RE more wrong!!


I think it's very important NOT to worship with sick Christians, and to find -- if not a group of perfectly loving brothers and sisters in faith -- at least a congregation of pretty decent eggs.

This is what I've felt again and again as a guest in other houses of worship this summer: "Oh my God, look at how much the same we all are in our churches. Look how simple and how unbelievably precious this is, that we gather to worship, that we struggle with the tradition, that we limp toward Bethlehem trying to be born, that we do our best to listen to and care for each other, and that we line up to take Communion each lost in his or her own thoughts of sin, fear, need, gratitude, concern, petition, and awe. That we come away one people again."

I believe that God wants us to be together in just this way. I believe that God is waiting for us to achieve a new wisdom of how the world works to match our brilliant understanding of how the world works. I believe this, and meanwhile, I KNOW that Jesus wants us to be together in just this way. That much is clear.
So I go, and I am ripped open again and again by the beauty of it, the silliness of some of the things we do, and the hope that it is through these communities -- communities of faith, whatever they may be -- that we actually glimpse God's Wisdom, and are able to live it, just a bit, day by day.

So my heart goes out to you, my friend. I say, drive and drive and find you a church you can give yourself to, that doesn't offend and disgust your spirit, and that is filled with people you can sit your tushie next to Sunday after Sunday and grow to feel kin to.

You may have to drive a long way. You may have to take the risk to visit all kinds of places -- hey, it may be the Disciples of Christ who feel like a true community, or it may be the little Science of the Mind group meeting in a basement (although I doubt it, given where you live), or it may be Episcopalians or maybe an ethnic Orthodox church that has a surprisingly open attitude (they do exist!). Keep taking that risk. Keep walking through open doors. Be willing to drive and explore. Armor yourself in the Holy Spirit for those times you observe abuses of the Christian religion and are hurt by it. Breath, and let nothing harm you. Don't be afraid to walk out of a sick environment.

If your soul hurts for the lack of worship, then you know where God is calling you.
Remember what he said. "Be not afraid. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives, but the peace of God."

Lots of love from PeaceBang.


Blogger ProtectedPeace said...

Ah,Peacebang... a very touching and powerful response to this person. I'm sure she will benefit from these words in ways yet to be seen. Thank you for sharing this letter with us. Blessings abound.


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