Saturday, October 9, 2010

Church Scars

During the visit from our South African friends I had the pleasure to be their driver for their trip to Cullman. Besides the Ava Maria Grotto we also visited a Catholic shrine down there. It was a most impressive place; huge, beautiful, spiritual. But it left me with a very uncomfortable feeling I can’t put my finger on. Obviously I must still have some unresolved Catholic issues from my youth. I have had these feelings before; see “Pew Time.”

I have also been struggling with my attitude toward Faith Church. Struggling with some scars and resentments left after the great turmoil. That is going to happen when a family of faith that has been so deeply instrumental to my faith development acts so uncharacteristically un-Christian. It shook my foundations. Even now as we move forward, I know there will be scars that get reopened. Will we be able to work through those scars or will they prevent Faith Church from becoming what God wants it to be? I suspect church scars are the deepest for just that reason. The relationships where you trust the most, open up the most, and love the most are the ones that cut the deepest.

I have also been attending one of Rev. Maricarmen Castro’s small group meetings. I have truly enjoyed these meetings. The meetings are still young, fresh, and full of Christ’s love and promise. I can see how they can be welcoming oases for many folks struggling with their faith or their church. But my pessimistic side can also see how, as these groups grow, they will be subject to the same human temptations that often turn churches into less than hospitable places.

And finally I have been attending Jerry’s Companions group. It has only been a brief time as it just started, however I feel very at home there as it is full of folks I have known for a long time and trust easily. We have been discussing God’s grace. The daily reflections concerning God’s grace in Companions as well as God’s holiness and grace in the Old Testament for Maricarmen’s group have highlighted the many, many instances of grace I have experienced. Experiences of grace I have had through friends, family, Faith Church, mentors, Maricarmen’s group, and other churches in the Presbytery. But I am also reminded of many instances when we, and I, turn away from grace; instances that are part and parcel of the human condition.

So, how do we deal with our scars and the wounds that are still to come? Yes, there will be wounds to come, because we can’t stop loving. If we stop loving we die.

It all rests in God’s grace. The grace that:
  • Brought me to Faith Church and found my faith.
  • Brought Marilyn and I together.
  • Nurtured me through raising a family.
  • Sustained me during Faith’s turmoil.
  • Brought me to a Rescue Mission worship that showed me true service.
  • Took me to Big Cove First Light for a message I needed to hear.
  • Found me in a Companions group that has quickly become a place of grace and healing.
  • Found me naturally making the Catholic “sign of the cross” as we remembered our baptisms by placing our hands in water.
  • Brought me to participate in a baptism that reminded me of our unity through Jesus Christ.
  • Urged me to connect with Maricarmen’s missional group of other scarred and searching folks.
  • Brought substance to the concept of incarnationally loving others in that group.
  • Brought me, as I was struggling with this entry, to a Sunday of serving communion to folks I love as well as ushering to folks I have grown distant from.
  • Reminded me why I love those folks too!
  • Repeatedly keeps me at Faith Church for whatever God has planned there.
It all rests in God’s grace. The list goes on and on each day. And the question is the same each and every time, “Do I accept this grace or do I turn away?” Like the prodigal brothers (Luke 15:11-32), what happens after the text? Do we accept the grace given and find forgiveness or do we reject the grace to live separated from God?

What will you do today with the graces you will be given; accept them, turn away from them, share them?


Rhonda Mitchell said...

Stay encouraged in Faith and Grace, Dave. And thank you for reminding us to do the same.

Jerry said...

"Thanks for sharing, Dave. You are right. It is all about grace! Shalom, Jerry"