Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Lent update

My hordes of followers have been clamouring for an update on my Lenten fast from church. And I am an obliging sort of gal....

I had six Sundays off. And avoided other church activities during that period. It was very relaxing.

Not sure how many noticed my absence. A few did. On the first Sunday, I went to meet Jon for lunch. He had been to church while I stayed in bed. On my way, I bumped into a couple coming home from the morning service. They stared, as if to check I was me.

Me: "Hi".
Wife: "You weren't at church this morning."
Me: "No".
Wife: "We saw your husband."
Me: "Yes, I'm going to meet him for lunch."
[long pause]
Wife: "Well, that's okay."

Quite amusing.

It's easy to reduce a relationship with 'god' (demanding!) to church activity. But in and of itself, that activity is meaningless. So, since the end of last year, I've been trying to devote more time to my own meditations, bible-reading and prayers. It has been transformative, but not in ways I can articulate (in a blog).

Alongside the personal progress, church continued to be frustrating. It didn't live up to my ideals about Christian community. It was rarely a place where I felt known, helped and necessary. I felt thwarted by its structures and rules, which seemed to require acquiescence before they would bestow acceptance.

Part of what I'm seeing is that church is neither my master nor my slave. And that, on the national scale, it is changing. (An essay for another day!) Perhaps I am frustrated because I see and want that change more than the majority. Church is for people; is a community within which they experience the Mystery who made and loves them.

I think church is important. It is my heritage and, on the grander historical scale, my forefathers and mothers in the faith have given me my identity. Learning to live in a church community gives you all the life lessons you are ever likely to need. But in its localised and present state, no church is crucial. It provides opportunities to discover truth - more reliable ones than an individualistic society. But it is not the only way. What is crucial is that people learn to relate to God, which usually happens alongside them learning to relate to one another.

So I am going to try to chill out about it. If I don't want to go along on any given Sunday, I won't. I will prioritise building relationships with people connected to church, rather than criticising Sunday services. I will try to challenge the bad, controlling, arrogant, judgmental, irrelevant, invite-only aspects of church. But will try to worry less about getting it wrong.

And we'll see what happens.

1 comment:

Andy said...

Awesome words there, Mrs Potts! :)