This morning I lit two candles for Advent.  I listened to the reading for the Second Week of Advent.  I sat and meditated on “preparing myself” for the coming of GOD.  I did this sitting at my kitchen table…alone.  This has been one of the first times in nearly a year that I have felt this great sense of loneliness.

I have been walking a spiritual journey by myself for a while because I have felt so uncomfortable in a church setting.  I am still so critical of the words I hear spoken in churches that seem to contradict the actions of the church.  I have heard so many people say, “My church is different.”  And I’m sure it is, but I don’t think that it would change my perception.  I am still nursing deep wounds from the last church I worked for.  Emotional and spiritual wounds that have altered the way I view life and religion.  Looking back I see things that I didn’t see then.  I now see that I looked at the senior pastor as a father figure, emotionally connected to his approval.  I was so confused emotionally that there were times that I actually considered going back and trying to figure out how I could continue to work at the church.  It was the emotional equivalent of a woman continually going back to a physically abusive man because she is so broken down that she can’t see anything else.  It has been almost two years since I left that church, but some days the wounds still feel fresh.  I’m not sure how to move on.

If I could reduce all of my issues into one, run-on sentence it would be this: How is it that people can claim to have the same Messiah, who say they follow the life and teachings of this person, can be so decisive and exclusive especially when one of the teachings of this Messiah is about knowing a tree by its fruit.  I’ve grown tired of Christians using the line, “we’re not perfect” as a crutch.  When will we be honest about the parts of following Jesus that we suck at?

In my confusion about all of this, I still feel a pulling in my soul to gather together with other Christians.  It’s at this crossroads that I find myself.  Can I move beyond these deep wounds and gather weekly with other Christian or should I continue down this path alone?

The year following my job at the church I was leading a house church for ‘displaced’ people from the church I was working for.  It was by no means perfect and was not easy, but there were things that I really miss about it.  I think that if I find myself in a church setting again it will be in something like the house church.  Broken and honest.  I really miss sharing food with people as an intentional act of communion.  I miss sitting together and listening as people opened their hearts to each other.  I miss worshiping together with music and art and prayer.  I miss walking with people through very difficult times of life and rejoicing with people in the happy times.  I miss reading the Bible, out loud, with different voices.

All of this leads me to my kitchen table to celebrate Advent – alone – and thinking of what it means to anticipate the coming King.  I wonder if I should be asking people to join me in this journey when the way seems so uncertain?

john-and-jesus1

Part of the Advent reading for today comes from the Gospel of Mark.  It’s the beginning of Mark’s story when he introduces Jesus, but before Jesus is on the scene Mark talks about John the baptizer.  John knew that the Messiah was coming and called out to the people around him to “Prepare your hearts.  Confess your sins.  And make way for the coming Messiah.”

So today we pray:  Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Advertisements