dimanche, octobre 07, 2012

Found out

People attend church for numerous reasons.

Some come because they need their weekly dose of spiritual caffeine  -- inspiring sermons, a great choir, the  band playing a rockin' Casting Crowns song.

Others may make the Sunday visit to see their old friends or hear the liturgy that has soothed them since they were ten, and growing up in a hamlet in Nebraska or a Massachusetts city.

Others, like my kids when they were a bit younger, came for the Veggie Tales movies and the coffee hour.

Or, of course, because dad and mom buckled them into their car seats, drove them and delivered them safe into the arms of the baby sitter.

I go to be found out -- and to find.

The finding part is relatively simple -- because I was a pastor once at the church where me and my family now worship, people still sometimes confide in me.  While I generally try to avoid getting too involved in pastoral care (it's a big boundary issue), I do try to practice listening.  It's becoming a lost art in a world in which multitasking rules.

As I got out of the pew this morning to receive communion, I realized one chief reason I returned to this large parish was that many of those who attend come to find -- and to be found out.

When I am present to the experience of worship, I find that often emotions I have managed to discipline in other situations bubble to the surface.  

Recently it's been tears, partly prompted by the realization that my decision to return to the church I love hasn't solved all of the problems that were present when I left.  

Tears impelled by knowing that there have been few places where I have felt the weight of both sin and redemption so powerfully.

Tears because I'm so darned tired.

I still can't explain an experience I had today -- and I'm comfortable with that.

Did God find me out where I was hiding?

Of course, there is no hiding from God.

But if I'm going to be discovered,  church is not a bad place to be. 

That's because, often, I find myself in the company of others who also come to be found out.

Many, but not all, expose their scars.

They let the strain of the week or the months or years of struggle show on their faces. They put their arms around the person next to them (sometimes, but not always, a spouse).

They cry in worship, wave their arms in joy, applaud.

There's a rawness to this Episcopal church,  sometimes at outs with its denomination, with parishioners that are sometimes at odds with one another,  that reflects the rawness of experience itself.

And that's a huge part of what brings me back, Sunday after Sunday.

For if we are to truly know God, we need to be able to lean on one another - - to trust that it's o.k. to break now and then. Not to patronize, or condescend, or pretend everything is alright when it isn't.

There is freedom in our brokenness.  

And so I arrive, if not prepared to be found, then willing, at least in spirit, to be found out. 

Because it's going to happen, whether we like it or not. 

The question then becomes, not solely for me, but for all of us -- what's the take-away? What have we learned? What have we surrendered? What do we want now?

I leave it to you to come up with your own questions -- if you can name the questions, then healing in those broken places becomes all that more possible.

Let God, and your sisters and brothers, find you out.  

As they do, you may start to find yourself.

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