Sunday, September 7, 2008

Where Two or More are Gathered, Communion, and Church

I think I might be either overly rebellious (entirely possible) or overly sensitive (totally possible) or both (pretty sure that's it).

Because when I sit in many of the churches we've been to, at least once during the sermon, I wince. Or my heart starts to race. Or I start looking around wondering if anyone else is shocked and notice no one seems to have felt a thing.

I'm frustrated. Mostly with myself. I don't expect a church to cater completely to the needs of my family. It's just that so many times, like I've said before, I come away feeling as if I don't fit in. Then I wonder why no one else seems uncomfortable, and figure it could just be my rebellious, cynical nature. Maybe I just don't like hearing certain things. Maybe they don't sit right with me because I don't want to have to change. Maybe the double-edged sword is a bit too much for me to handle in my immaturity sometimes. Maybe I hear things through my somewhat liberal ears, twisting what the person is saying so I can be offended and say, "I told you so, another judgmental closed-minded sermon."

Other times I think there's no way around it. Something is said that seems so far off, I never want to come back again. But I don't want my family to switch churches every six months when we're hopeful we've found a church home, then suddenly surprised by the misrepresentation of the word of God. I don't want to find out that things I hold dear are not being lived out. I don't want to feel as if there is no way the Holy Spirit is a part of the services, classes and other gatherings. I'm frustrated.

Today the pastor spoke on communion and the doctrinal beliefs behind it. All was well and good until he got a bit fired up and said some things that didn't sit well with me. I tried to check myself, asking myself not to judge him. I tried to understand where he's coming from, what he could mean. The sermon took a turn when the pastor started to talk about a poll that was done asking baby boomers if they're attending members of a church community. Many of the boomers answered that they would call themselves Christians, but they did not attend church each Sunday and were not members of any certain church.

I understand that the body of Christ is a vital aspect to faith. We hold each other up, we teach one another, and we even keep each other in line a bit, wanting to see one another living the fullest of lives possible. I agree with that.

But then the pastor started to talk about how "absurd" it would be to call yourself a Christian and not go to church.

He talked about the act of taking communion, and it's mysterious power when we do it together. True. That's cool. But then he said that if you were to take communion at home, with no one else there, "Jesus will not show up." He used the "where two or more are gathered" verse and basically said if there are less than two, God will not be there. He was specifically talking about communion.

I'm still chewing on this, so forgive me for rambling and thinking out loud a bit.

Then he also said that what you do in the world as an individual Christian is basically useless. It has to be done as a part of a church body (he was meaning a body that meets on Sundays, not the body). He said that handing out tracts on a corner by yourself does nothing for the people that read them (I'm not a fan of this method either, but I wouldn't be surprised if God has spoken love to someone at some point even through tracts.) He then moved on to say that loving people on your own, not representing a church, does nothing for the person you are loving. Because in the end it doesn't last. The person would not be witnessing Christ because they could just go and find the next person to love them, someone that may not even be a Christian and they'd find the same thing there. Basically saying that if your love cannot be traced back to a church or ministry, it is separate from Christianity.

I'm pretty sure that I think this is way off. Maybe I'm missing something. Yes, the church can definitely be effective in the world for those reasons, but first of all, how often is it effective in our world today? And what did Christ mean by "the Church?" And I sure hope that God still shows up when I'm not a part of a church community, because I can't seem to find one.

Mostly I'm just sad. Sad that we just can't find a home. A church where our kids can love other kids and learn about God. A place that doesn't sneak up and hit us over the head with stuff we just can't swallow. I was hopeful and now I'm disappointed again. Maybe it's wrong to not go back and give more chances. But to be honest, we had already heard a few things that didn't sit well with us, and we kept coming back because we were hopeful about the lovely congregation and children's programs.

But we don't want our kids to hear these kinds of messages either. I'm so frustrated.

3 comments:

MidnightCafe said...

Wow. Um. Wow. What the pastor said was just completely way off and unbiblical..as in, cannot be supported by scripture. Where did Jesus go to church? I'm pretty sure God was with him and moved through his individual actions. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure the Bible is full of stories of God using individuals. Yikes. I sympathize with the sadness, though, the wishing that there was some little community somewhere where we could raise our children to know and love Jesus and to learn solid truth.

Lisa said...

Gosh, Heather. I can see preaching mostly about what we need to do as individuals and SOMETIMES teaching about where the community or congregation or whatever of a church comes in and why it's important. But to say that acting with a church is more effective than acting for yourself? That's so wrong. Especially since the greatest personal growth comes when we do things for ourselves. When we act on our own with no other motivation than to do what is right and good, and not because it's what your church does is when we prove ourselves.

I just think this is so interesting. So of course, as a "Mormon" I think that God DOES want us to attend church every week but it is what we desire to do as Christians, and not what makes us Christians. This is really interesting to think about. I hope it's okay for me to come on here and comment. I want to look back through some of the other posts.

I really wish you the best in your search. I like how you put it that you want to find "a home." That's what a church/religion should be.

Sabrina said...

Finding a church has always been a "thorn in my side". It is frustrating to no end, and it makes me sad too. I just want to find a "home".

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