Monday, April 18, 2011

Plain Clothes Clergy: I'll be there on Easter.

I spent the weekend gardening, and it was lovely. On Sunday morning, I listened to the Palm Sunday Eucharist podcast from St. Laika's while I was digging rocks out of the bed in which I hope to plant corn. I loved it. It was just what I needed.

And now I am looking at Holy Week with dread. Particularly Easter Sunday. Because, to my astonishment, I find I will be one of the strangers who shows up on your door on Easter Sunday, and I fully expect to be judged for it.

I know because I remember doing it. Not overtly, and not (I hope) intentionally. But I wondered, who are all these people? Why do they come for Easter? And why don't they come any other time?

Well, now I know: at least some of us are there because we love the church enough to make the effort to attend on its major feast days even though there is absolutely nothing there that feeds us spiritually or emotionally. Even though we've been hurt by it in the past. Even though we feel excluded or out of place. Even though we think the music is dull or the preaching is bad or the building is ugly.

Last week on Facebook, I posted the link to an article about young adults and the church called Bored to Tears. The author, exploring the matter-of-fact way in which young adults told her that "Church is boring; spirituality isn't," notes, "if I’m honest, it’s been a very long time since church has felt particularly spiritual for me, either." I noted that I, too, am at a point where I drag myself to church. And sometimes don't.

The longer I'm out of the church as a paid member of its keeping, the more I appreciate that showing up is an act of sacrifice. Not to God, but to a church I still wish to support. A church that sometimes seems to think I owe it something, that "because the Bible says so" is reason enough to attend. That still thinks the church is the institution and doesn't see that the church is the work of the people of God.

Please know, if you see me, that I'm not there because I love God, though I do. I'm not there for the beautiful music, though I appreciate it. I'm not there for the preaching, though I will be very happy if the sermon is good. I am there out of a sense of duty. I wish it were otherwise, but that's the truth.

Image from ASBO Jesus


MadPriest said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MadPriest said...

I'm not going this year, duty or not. I'm worried that I wouldn't be able stop myself shouting,

"Three days? Big deal! You had it easy."

LKT said...

I hear you.

Kirstin said...

I'm going to Easter Vigil at St. Gregory's. Both because it's the only place I think I could stomach it this year (I'm boycotting the rest of Holy Week because I'm already living Good Friday), and because I've been wanting to for years and never gone there.

If you meet me, or if you don't, I won't judge you.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a tough place to be. I hope some Easter joy arrives anyway.

it's margaret said...

Been there. Exile sucks. and in so many ways, the church itself (yes of course, sucks) is in exile from itself... if you know what I mean.

If you 'showed up' here, I would throw stole on you, drag you up to the altar and ask you to help feed the people of God who are all there and all broken and hungry in one way or another.