Sunday, January 30, 2011

Voices Inside My Head

Yesterday night, my youngest informed me she wanted to go to church this morning.

Let me back up a minute and explain why this is interesting. Prior to moving here, we were at church every single Sunday. As part of the move, I made a decision that it was time to explore my spirituality a little differently. We went to a church about an hour away then, and it was exactly what I needed at the time - very progressive, liberal, and a place to heal. But then it wasn't. So we stopped going. It was hard to get there.

I tried going to church where I live, and became intensely frustrated. I'm just not a match for what I'm hearing, and there are some services I just can't stomach, so there's no reason to even try with them. Regardless, going to church served to take me farther away from where I was than where I needed to be. So we quit going.

In the past few months, both girls have deepened friendships with children who attend a church that can be in my comfort zone, and I've encouraged them to go. So when my youngest said she wanted to go to church today, I fully encouraged it, and went with her. Her motivation, though, is to have the opportunity to play with her friend - there isn't a spiritual reason for it, really. That's fine, though.

I do want them to develop spiritually, but it's been hard to do that formally because of location.

So, today I went with my youngest - and I left the service with many voices inside my head. And I've had to write them out, because a)I have other things I really need to focus on and b) they have been festering. If a sermon is designed to make you think, then kudos to the minister, because that is indeed what happened. So here they are:
  1. This church has a very White population. There was also an insert in the bulletin about the evangelism committee. The expectations listed were so surface in nature that I thought about the fact that I often wonder if I am mired in mediocrity - Surrounded by people who are not willing to think differently.
  2. I couldn't help but think about the huge racial divide where I live.
  3. This sermon went away from the typical Methodist litany in that it wasn't over the selected scriptures for the week. In fact, no scripture was directly referenced. The sermon was actually 4 sermons written by a "Black preacher" (and that's a quote from the minister, so I will stick with the adjective) years ago that the minister had memorized. So here I am in a very White church hearing words originally spoken by a Black minister for what I assume was a Black audience. And the minister changed his voice to be more similar in delivery to a Black preacher. Huge irony there. And I couldn't help but think that this is indeed a stretch for many in the congregation.
  4. After I got past the irony, I listened to the words and the cadence. They were beautiful. I understood why the minister loved the words, yet I remained somewhat bothered by the license that people take when re-crafting stories for an audience. How much liberty should be allowed before the meaning becomes lost?
  5. The fact that the minister clarified that even though the words in the sermon only mentioned men, it was to all. My feminist side rankled a bit.
  6. DD2 looked at me after the Lord's Prayer and said "I don't know this." A moment of guilt washed over me. I need to do something about that.
  7. The last sermon he gave from what he memorized was about the crucifixion, and was written as if someone was there watching. During this sermon, I had my arm around DD2 and she was snuggled in. She played with my jewelry and I stroked her hand, and I was taken back to my childhood for a moment.
  8. Within that same sermon I was able to imagine myself as Jesus' mother. Watching the scene, and knowing in my heart that I would take his place if it meant saving my child from such agony. The true manifestation of unconditional love. And then
  9. Wondering again about how the congregation (and I include myself in this word) received the message - is there a sense of being willing to learn from others who are not like us, and genuinely being open to it, rather than feeling good about it after a false sense of bridge building? Goes back full circle to #1.
I wonder how others processed the sermon today. I really do.

I'm glad I went.

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