Thursday, August 26, 2010


Lots going on in my head this morning.

What is church for? Well I can't find the post, but a seminary friend posted a rant about critiques of sermons by parishioners. When I posted on another forum that I was retiring, a friend replied that his sister was tired of arguing with parishioners. Yesterday, a group of parishioners talked about going to church for comfort. I suppose my lack of success as a pastor comes from the fact that I really don't think church should be a place of comfort. (Except for when the church should be a place of comfort it really isn't. In the face of tragedy we isolate the sufferer, smooth over our own feelings of discomfort, provide meaningless bromides.) For most whiney Americans (myself included) church, IMHO, should be a place of deep discomfort.

Yes, we are forgiven even before we ask. Yes, God loves us unconditionally. God's grace is infinite. And our reaction is to want even more comfort. We should come to church and be discomforted at the state of our country: the hungry, the homeless, the unparented children, the unschooled children, those in prison. We should be discomforted by unequal justice, by the widest gap between rich and poor since the 20s, by the shrinking of the middle class. We should be upset by lack of clean water all over the world, by hunger when the food we feed animals for our consumption could feed all the hungry in the world. We should be discomforted that our food is no longer safe. We should be discomforted that we'd rather trash each other than love the person sitting in the pew next to us. We should be discomforted by the state of some of our presbyteries and churches where manipulation is paramount and love is absent.

We should be discomforted by our self centeredness.

For some reason, the idea of a womb has been entering my consciousness. After my hysterectomy a friend asked if I felt a loss. I really didn't. I didn't expect to ever have children again. I still don't feel a loss, but the image keeps floating into my mind. There is new life growing in me, but I don't have a clue what it is. I'm just waiting, watching.


Jules said...

I'll be watching to see what grows!

I think my failure as a pastor is built on the fact that I agree with you about the church.

(word veri: ovulasms)

Deborah said...

Amen and Amen!

The reason we are missing younger generations (and we are, if we're honest) is because of the reasons you mention: the world is suffering, and churches should be places where are discomfort is turned to action. And because in the terrible transitions of our lives, this same community is unable to be a community and disintegrates into individuals consumed with their own pain.
I'll have to tell you the story of my hysterectomy and the church's failure to be church.

Good thing we can still find church in other communities!