It’s always easy to write a post when it’s happy – an accomplishment and/or something positive. It’s harder when it’s something you’re struggling with, something that’s not necessarily so positive. But if I’m going to be honest, I need to write the tough stuff too.
I grew up in the church – a PK, but not like the crazy girls you see on “Preacher’s Daughters”. I generally do actually like going to church, but…
Finding a place that feels like home has been a struggle. I’ll find something and it fits for a while, but then things happen and that place doesn’t fit so well. Sometimes it’s just little adjustments here and there, and maybe not a super snug fit, but I’ve been able to make it work. Or find something that fits better – that was my move from the United Methodist Church to the Episcopal Church.
Then a couple of years ago, the parish where I was just wasn’t meeting my spiritual needs anymore in spite of me loving many of the people there. So after just not going anywhere for a while, I started looking into other options and through the Reconciling Ministries Network website, I found some options of churches to check out. Back in the United Methodist Church.
The first I went to had a few things I really liked, but there were some things in worship that just didn’t fit with me at all. Then I found my current church, and it really seemed to fit like a glove at first.
I made friends there. I got involved on a couple of committees. It wasn’t a big effort to get myself to church, even if I needed to get a run in. I loved that it is a “progressive” church. I was happy there – or I thought I was.
But then things in the country started happening, and I realized that there are some things I needed that frankly I’m not sure I can get in a “progressive” church – at least not the one where I am now. Things like…worship.
The times I have gotten there lately, I’ve been hard pressed to tell if I was even AT worship as it has felt more like a political rally or – especially today – a concert. Today especially the music was definitely more of a performance – at least to me. A performance complete with standing ovations. Can music be moving and spiritual? Of course it can. But I think there is a time and a place for applause and standing ovations and PERFORMANCE, and there is a time and a place for songs and music that leads you to worship. I don’t know…maybe what we had today does do that for some people. It doesn’t for me.
And continuity. There is something comforting about having a lectionary – knowing that there is a larger community of all lectionary-based churches where people are all hearing the same family story and where it’s cyclical. Every three years you’ll hear the same stories, but you hear them differently because of all that has happened in your life, in the church’s life, and in the world in general in those intervening three years. And it’s a pattern – one thing leads to another so there is some continuity within the larger cycle. Remove the lectionary, and there’s no way to really keep continuity. It’s even more glaring when technically the denomination IS lectionary-based, but an individual church goes rogue and does its own thing, often going with the whims of what is going on in the world rather than looking for a message for the world in what you’re given in the lectionary. And to me, that leads to very disjointed worship from week to week.
And can give it the political rally feeling I mentioned earlier. Maybe I’m just not used to people being as vocal as they are in this church, but… But it doesn’t work for me. There is a time and a place – and certainly churches can and should be involved in issues of social justice, but for me, I need the quiet space of Sunday worship to help me go out into the world. I work better with quieter, calmer guidance with some prayerful space in the service and the sermon than speeches that have people applauding in the middle.
I don’t know. Maybe I’m the one who’s wrong, who doesn’t get it. I definitely feel like I am in my current place, because everyone else seems to be totally cool with it. I just feel like there’s a way to be both progressive and still have a more worshipful service. Is that too much to ask?
I don’t have the answer obviously… I’m just searching for the place where I fit…and it seems like every time I think I’ve found it, it turns out to be wrong.