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Posts Tagged ‘churches’

This past Sunday I returned to the Beachy Amish mission church.  I brought my daughter.  It went very well and people were very tolerant of my daughter crawling around the room and getting into things.  I love the singing and the group prayer and sense of community.  I wore a tichel-style covering and my jumper dress.  I felt right and good but rushed out to my car in the morning hoping my neighbors wouldn’t see me and ask questions.  F, who I’ve been exchanging emails with, was supportive and encouraging of my covering, which was nice.

After the service I went with F and N, and another church visitor back to their house for lunch and conversation.  My daughter played with their small kids and we talked about our spiritual paths and how God is working in our lives.   They are a young couple and are conservative Mennonites (and attend the mission church to help since it is so small).  The woman has Jewish roots and we are all in similar professions.

I enjoyed so much spending time with this couple and the other church visitor.  And I’m still struggling with the divorce and remarriage issue – and its very personal.  N said something very wise while I was there, the gist of which was that God will show me what I am supposed to do and make it okay, that I don’t need to join or not join a group based on intellectually what is acceptable to me or repugnant, but to be open to growing in my understanding.  So I don’t need to react like, “how horrible that this group would judge my situation or my marriage,” rather if I’m meant to be there, God will find a way to make it all right.  And if I’m not meant to be there, I’ll know that too.

I feel comfortable with (and inspired by) the people at this church – their faith is so strong and put in practice every day.  I love that.  It feels good to be around people of strong faith who live their faith.

But, I’m also feeling like the Orthodox church has more to offer me – more concrete practices, structure, depth of tradition and literature.  I am feeling more drawn in that direction right now.  Maybe it is another stepping stone, or maybe not.  I am feeling a clear leading that I want to be Baptized and that it should be by immersion.  I don’t think it would be enough to attend a church but not be Baptized.

For now I am going to continue to attend both churches, alternating as I am able.

 

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It’s been a couple of weeks … here is what is going on now.

I am 100% clear that I need God in my life.

My husband and I have had numerous discussions about where we are heading individually and as a family.  He still feels like Buddhism has been very helpful to him and he’s not ready to jump ship.  I have been encouraging him to read Theravada Buddhist literature (because Zen isn’t doing it for him) and gave him some links to Theravada Buddhist temples in our area but I don’t know that he’ll actually visit any.  That’s okay.  I understand that he has to walk his path on his own, just as I walk my own path.

But I’ve also told him I need his help and support on my spiritual journey.  I feel self-conscious sometimes wanting to talk about God because I know he is an agnostic.  I want to do family prayer or grace before meals – he feels put on the spot – so we’re working on a compromise where I would lead prayer (so he’s not on the spot) but he will help me remember and hold an intentional space.

I was all set to visit a liberal Mennonite church nearby last Sunday and then my daughter had a raging fever and I stayed home to nurse her.  So she was sick and then I was sick… but finally we’re both better.  So then I was planning to visit the church this Sunday but last night I was online and found some recent sermons online at the church’s website and decided I didn’t want to visit after all.  The sermon talked about scripture but also brought in politics… a lot.  And I just cannot attend a church where politics (even — or maybe especially liberal peace politics) are a major topic of discussion.  I don’t have a good explanation for this – but these sort of sermons sound to me like “you have to be an activist to fit in here and to be a good person and to do God’s will” and I just disagree.  Don’t get me wrong, I am glad there are activists in the world – we all owe them a debt of gratitude for the work they do in the world.  Political activism just is not my work.  And it doesn’t have to be.  Unfortunately, I’ve had a number of bad experiences with Activists who feel that it has to be everyone’s work… or else you are wrong/bad/stupid/evil/an oppressor.  But for me, I have to focus my energy on what I can immediately control (my own life and how I treat the people around me) or else focus on accepting what I can’t control and what is in God’s hands.  A woman online I know described this as the difference between an Activist orientation and a Quietist orientation.  I have the latter.   (and I’ve rewritten this paragraph like 4 times now to try to make it less offensive, but it may still offend some, and if so, I’m really sorry.)

So instead I decided to put myself out there… and attend an Amish-Mennonite / Beachy Amish mission church I had learned about online several months ago.  I was scared to go because its in a really bad part of town and I didn’t know what the people would be like, and I knew it was very small and of course it doesn’t have a website or anything like that… but I went, and it was really nice.  It was very small, maybe 10-12 people there, some of whom were children.  The people were very friendly though and I loved the a capella singing (which was done sitting and without all that stand-up/sit down business that feels artificial to me) and the simple sermon.  There was a Sunday school portion and a second sermon which was really long – and these parts were less compelling… but in general I felt really comfortable there.  The people were down-to-earth.  Women were in plain dress.  Everyone there spoke with great love and faith in God.  It was inspiring.  I also liked that there was space during the service for people to pray out loud together and to reflect upon the sermons.  After the service I talked to several of the women there and felt comfortable to share parts of my story and to explain why I was there.  They were very supportive.

My thoughts are still in a jumble about my experiences this morning.  Here are some things I want to say…  I really don’t understand what this is all about.  I keep feeling myself drawn to conservative Christian churches.  This is odd for me on so many levels.  I am (and always have been) politically and socially liberal.  I am (still) not a Christian (yet?).  I think of Jesus as a great prophet and teacher but a savior?  These ideas are still foreign to me.  I am not the sort of person who interprets things literally, for me, most things must be taken in context.  I know these things… and yet, I still find myself drawn to the idea of a simple faith and a simple life.  I want to rely on God.  I want freedom from the things that keep me running in circles – my doubts and fears, my intellectual compulsion to “figure everything out” and accompanying frustration when this is fruitless, and I want to believe that God is with us in every moment and that He has a plan.

I feel naive writing this… its not that I want to put my head in the sand and cultivate an immature or unreasoned faith.  It’s that I know what doubt and disconnection is like and I know it doesn’t lead to greater compassion and love for me.  So there is a part of me, that is growing stronger by the day, that is thinking “well, f*** it.  Even if I don’t believe it (yet), maybe I should just go with it, because what do I know anyway, and clearly what I’m doing now isn’t getting me anywhere.”

And, that’s what happened with my involvement with that Buddhist group – which ended up not being such a great group, however, they inadvertently helped me find my way back to faith in God… so maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing after all.  Maybe God knows what he’s doing here, even if I don’t.

And God bless my husband… who is still supportive… even though he doesn’t get it.  He has strong faith in his own way.

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