Finding Church Again – I Believe We Will

I know these days are scary and uncertain. Faith over fear is not necessarily a true statement. You can be faithful and afraid. But we don’t want to let that fear control us in negative ways. We listen to wisdom in these moments. Listen to people who are telling the truth. But we need to know what the truth is, because fake news is prevalent – and fundamentalism and fake news seem to coincide sadly.
Patch Adams is my very favorite movie. Every part of that movie I relate to in some way. The patient in the mental institution who would yell b/c people would always answer 4 when he held up 4 fingers. He finally got Patch to look deeper at this fingers, and Patch was able to see beyond the 4 fingers seeing 8. Arthur was so happy b/c it was a new way of seeing. He did not say that is the answer, but 8 is A good answer. Not the only one.
A question was asked on Twitter about the future of the church in this pandemic and after. The church has been largely absent from the public square before – hiding in the church building. I find this question fascinating b/c that is a disruptive question I heard at OSU when my Sociology professor told us he wasn’t sure what he believed about God. If there is one – then why isn’t God’s church making the community better. Why are we sectioned off and exclusive. I felt that question. It was my first class at OSU too. So, imagine my surprise that my first class in seminary, 23 years later, is Church in Social Context with Sociologists answering this question.
I am writing this because I had a breakdown like Patch did. Something broke and we needed to be with the people society cast out to get back up and live again. I never thought I would go to church again, and I loved my former church (still do – love was never the problem). But the system I saw in 2016 with the treatment of women and LGBT as insignificant compared to issues that kept power going – abortion and anti-LGBT agenda. I have heard this being blamed even in this moment. This needs to stop. Bad theology has no place in this moment – not now, and not ever. It is time to end it. See differently.
I got to this moment with church that felt similar to Patch’s plea to graduate. Power did not like who he was. He did not fit the narrative. Patch said this:
“Now you have the ability to keep me from graduating. You can keep me from getting the title and the white coat. But you can’t control my spirit, gentlemen. You can’t keep me from learning, you can’t keep me from studying. So you have a choice: you can have me as a professional colleague, passionate, or you can have me as an outspoken outsider, still adamant”. Either way I’ll probably still be viewed as a thorn. But I promise you one thing: I am a thorn that will not go away”.
I tried to run away from church. But God pursued me. Ministers online were preaching a gospel that helped me see differently, and I started listening to voices I was unable to hear before, and my world got bigger. I don’t have answers, but I knew I wanted to live this story.
When I had communion in April 2017 at Jen Hatmaker’s church, and Jonathan Martin was preaching– and they knew me b/c of Twitter; I knew I wanted to go back to church. It isn’t good enough online (but it was great for two years, so I hope this is being heard as encouragement). I needed the sacraments. Which is not a term I grew up using. We didn’t observe the church calendar either, but when I went down – I followed the calendar, and it did something for my soul. I am a big believer in the church calendar – the sacraments – and community in flesh and blood.
I wasn’t able to go to my original home with this new story, but I found one October 2017 -and it was through Moxie Matters (Jen Hatmaker) at SMU with Wilshire Baptist Church as a co-sponsor. It is a series of events that will never cease my wonder and awe of God – I ended up in seminary at Perkins (SMU) a little over a year later after arriving at my new church home.
The mug in this picture is an image on our Tapestry at church. when I got this mug after joining Wilshire on our second visit, I have treasured it so much. It is starting to fade a bit, and I am sad, so I don’t want to use it as much- I have it sit in my window instead. I never knew I could love church this much. And church love me back. It changed my whole world. And this church wants me as a professional colleague.
When I show up for worship now, I feel the power of our worship so deeply in my soul. I leave ready to return as quickly as possible. When I walk in – it feels like an alternate reality. We aren’t competing. Truth can be spoken unashamedly. We care about the world around us. And I had no idea they were going to ask me to join them in the work as an equal – not an outsider trying to break through the silence.
I am praying for restoration and solidarity. I am here. Everyone is beloved. Hold onto hope. We are the ones we have been waiting for.

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