I respectfully disagree with a favorite blogger I follow regarding his recent post. Of course, I know that church community is not for everyone… and many church communities in particular are not for everyone. As a gay man, many, MANY churches are not for me.
Still, being part of a diverse faith community offers so much. You can get by without it but life is so much fuller with it.
I speak as one who was really just planning to come, eat, and go with church. I really wanted to stay anonymous. My church currently has a number of these (who I think are missing out, even as they are part of this faith community).
As a former Pentecostal, I was interested in Bible study kind of stuff so I would come, eat, Bible study, and then go. Maybe give up just a bit of my anonymity. Then along came helping my church become officially open, welcoming and affirming of LGBT people. And a committee here and there. At some point I found myself in the deep end of the pool, so to speak.
I’ll tell you what I don’t like about church: older members I’ve come to love who decline in health. Then die—sometimes suddenly, sometimes a slow and very sad decline. I love college students and young parents with families making their way in the university. I don’t love that they leave just when I thought they would stay here forever, even as I must be happy for them getting tenured positions at other universities. I really love the retired couples who retire to our community and our faith community. But they will be the ones declining in health in a few years.
They all are teaching me something out holding and letting go. Some Sunday mornings I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. And how do I make reconcile both feelings with the Gospel?
Life in a faith community is not easy. I’ve had a falling out with my pastor. I’ve watched things fall apart. I’ve dealt with difficult people (not the pastor). In the midst of all of it, I have been challenged—and called—to live like Jesus. Hug the pastor. Put the pieces back together. Learn to deal with difficult people. Proclaim the Gospel together and be surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.
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