disappointment will be the death of church

Niamh and I got ourselves ready and we walked to church this morning. It was a beautiful and quiet morning, the neighborhood still asleep. St. Paul's has just gotten a new minister and I was truly looking forward to meeting him and hearing his sermon.

We slipped into the back pew as our timing was perfect to avoid all the polite pleasantries before service. I noticed the old pictures still hanging on the wall (pictures that were the focus of three meetings I had attended in May and June: black and white photos of past ministers that were going to be taken down and replaced with more current info and congregational photos and art).

A see of grey heads filled the old wooden pews before us, all standing and sitting on cue. Songs that were lifeless and hard to sing, from a collection of books. They had gotten rid of the overhead projection screen for some reason, and with my broken wrist I just gave up trying to sing.

I was hanging in there for the sermon... hoping that it would hold some nuggets of encouragement. The scripture was Isaiah 5, about the vineyard keeper who did all he could to ensure a good and prosperous harvest of luscious grapes, only to be devestated to reap only wild and unsatisfactory grapes. This compared to God's people, who like the wild grapes were a dissapointment. I was curious to see how the minister would use this in his message. I explained to Niamh that she too should listen to see if she could draw the connections between the scripture
and the sermon.

He talked alot about Jesus and how he calls us to chose the narrow, less popular path. To make the hard decisions that may even seperate us from our families, despite the Commandments that tell us to honor our mother and father. ... to choose going to church over a family day at the park.... Niamh looked up at me with a huge question mark on her face.

I got the whole "choosing the less popular path" idea... that had potential but the rest of his sermon was fague and lacking of any umphf! It lacked any connection to the scripture, it was allusive and extremely uninspiring. I was truly disappointed! How can you pass on such a powerful opportunity to speak to the multitudes: to lift them up, encourage them and inspire them? I just dont get it, give me the pulpit: I have lots to say! What senior citizen has to make the unpopular choice? What old person is going to have to face peer pressure in going along with the crowd? I honestly dont know what that grey sea of heads came away with this morning. I would have painted a nice clear picture for them of exactly how it related to them in their senior years and I would have provided them with oodles of examples of how they could relate the message to their personal lives. But, at least they went away feeling duty fullfilled, I guess, I hope.

Outside I asked Niamh what she thought of it... she said he's crazy if he thinks I would choose to go to church instead of going to a family day in the park. I laughed. She returned the question, I blew the hair from my face with an umph, and said, "that was a waste of an hour." I had been so looking forward to this new minister.

The United Church has this amazing movement happening within it called, Emerging Spirit. Its fresh, contemporary with so much potential and yet I wonder if it will be enough to save their aging congregations. Wonder Cafe is a fantastic alternative virtual church community... but will it ever filter down to the regular church folk, will it make the difference?

I know all about the different denominations and what they offer; I know what I'm looking for and I have yet to find it. Every time I have felt the urge to go, and have gone, I have come away dissappointed. The church needs a huge overall, it's just exhausting to think about. I'm not only talking about the main line churches but also about the loud and rocking churches with great youth programs and womens lunches, i'm talking about the"church" in all its forms. The people who say that Jesus is their saviour and redeemer but haven't got a clue what Christ was really all about. That's why I left the Church so many years ago, and nothing has really changed, to my dismay and dissappointment... and I wonder why I even bother to care?

So, today I have decided, that as a part of my class: Practical Spirituality, we will do a group study on the different religious organizations in the Peace region. We'll go together as a group to all the different services and do our own little surveys, on what we like and what we dislike. At the end, we will design our own model of what our own personal "church" would look like. And perhaps then, i will find what I've been hoping to find.


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