Lingering Thoughts

I was all ready to go to bed. But, these thoughts are lingering with me and I can't seem to get away from them -- even in my feeble attempts toward slumber. So, I thought that I would share these thoughts so that they no longer have to be only mine. Both happened today.

The first happened just after church. One of my favorite church ladies held my hand and thanked me for my sermon. She grew up Missouri Synod Lutheran -- and though she loves our church, she struggles with the progressive politics and theology that is often espoused from the pulpit.

"That," she said, "was a great sermon." I said my feeble thank you before she added her next words.

"That was a good fundementalist sermon."

Stunned, I am. I smiled before finding the only words on my heart: "Um, I wouldn't call it fundamentalist."

"Don't argue with me," she said as she patted my hand. "It was a good sermon. I needed to hear it."

This is an interesting moment for me. This is a moment I would have never, ever expected. I went to a seminary for "heretics" and have been called one more than once. I have been vocal in my faith and my politics to the point that it was difficullt for many of the search committees that interviewed me. And now, I have preached a fundamentalist sermon. Huh. I am just stunned. Is this what happens when you are a Biblical preacher? I preach the text with subtle references to other things. Wow. What do I do with this?

And then, there was this other lingering thought from this afternoon. I was lamenting to a possible new friend (though I doubt this person will actually become a friend, or whatever he might hope to come) about the church. I said something about why we don't do something in our church. It was judgmental and perhaps a little harsh. I'll give you that. But, he said: "It doesn't seem like you really enjoy your work." Again, I was stunned as I realized something that has been very difficult for me in the endeavor of making new friends. See, his assumption was wrong. It's not that I don't love the church. I DO! I love it so much I could burst. But, I believe that the church -- as a human institution -- has a long way to go. And I'm going to love it during its arrival to this new place.

And while I'm lovin' the church, I need friends that understand the complex nature of my relationship with the church. I love the church so much that I don't think that I should have to prove it. That's not the stuff that I want to talk about usually. Usually, when I gather with friends in a safe space, I want to vent. Perhaps that's unfair to my friends. But, I want to talk about the stuff that drives me crazy. I can't do that at church. I can only do it with friends. Arg. So, this frustrated me. Thanks for listenning. Now, I'm going to try to sleep.


LittleMary said...

i hear you sister. whenever i would say something critical about the church, framer girl would say something like "you see, that is why the church shouldn't exist, it is so hypocritical..." or something like that. now i never said that. it is hard to find those good friends. time, only time.

PPB said...

I had someone say I preached a good fundamentalist sermon once, too. And it freaked me out, too. But then I asked what he meant by it, and he just meant that it was on the "fundamentals" of Christian living, which isn't such a bad thing.

But it does scare you, doesn't it?

Serena said...

I hear you about wanting to be able to vent when with friends, and trust that those friends understand that you can hate the behavior of the church while still loving the church. Authenticity .. why is it so hard for us to allow authenticity? Is that part of the ever illusive agape love?

Backwoods Rev said...

It's amazing what happens in the space between the sermon words leaving our mouths and the words arriving in someone's ear.

I always pray that it is the Holy Spirit at work...

Diane said...

I've had the experience of someone telling me I said something in my sermon I didn't say (I was a good conservative or something like that).

It makes you wonder.

LadyBurg said...

I hope you find many such friends along the journey. They are priceless, aren't they?!

Mary said...

You are fantastic. Working for the Catholic Church, I too need to vent; but I LOVE my Church and my faith. Blessings for your honesty. I have many friends and family members think I'm sooo conservative and then young adults I serve think I'm this crazy liberal. That's the beauty of the bible, I suppose.