Monday, September 17, 2012

Finding Freedom in Church when I used to be so bound in church!


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Finding Freedom in Church when I used to be so bound in church!
It is funny how I came to the realization of what I like doing. It is odd how it all came about.

What is it that I like doing?   That something is attending church.

I say it is odd the way that I came to the realization that I like this.  The odd way it came about was by listening to some one that virtually hates church… or the way that it operates today.

I have to agree with my friend that I am not overly impressed with what I have seen in the past. But I also have to disagree with some things that are being said about church today.

So you are not a church goer or attender – or maybe you even hate some Christians or what Christians have done to you.  Please don’t read further if that is the case. I might turn you off even more.

Yesterday it came to me… I like people.  I like my friends that sit near me in church, that shake my hand and that greet me. They want to talk about life and what they are doing. Many are lonely and just need a friend.  I saw that happen in church yesterday.

I specially appreciated the Pastor of the church I attended yesterday. He allowed us to fellowship and talk a long time. Maybe the fact that was when he turned people loose to greet each other they wouldn’t return to their seats. What fun that was!  Pure pandemonium – but in a great way!

Now I have discovered that I love a number of churches over this past year. I have made friends in each church. In almost all of them people were very friendly and open.  They love us for what we are – just ordinary people like they are.

In some churches it is easier to just be an ordinary person... in other places it is harder to be ordinary in that they still know me as a “Pastor” – maybe even their “Pastor”.  I have avoided that title for a while now… and it is feeling better as I pull away to become “Murray”.

I have come to the realization that if you use the “F” word all the time you will likely keep using it so often that you will not be able to hear or know when you use it. That is true too when you are around people that swear bitterly all the time… you can’t hear when you start using the same language.  It is also true if you are around people that hate something or someone – you will start hating too. It is easy to do.

When you let someone that hates be in your life you can pick up the hate real easy.

I was in church yesterday sitting in a familiar pew. For 14 years a person that hated had sat in one of the pews up ahead of where I was sitting. It dawned on me yesterday that she is gone now… never to return again… and I no longer have to cringe when I see her – because she is not there.

It was another revelation at a kind of a funny moment… I was free of that misery – forever.

My second thought was, I hope that no one has to feel that way about me – EVER!  What can I do to make sure that I am never to become a grumpy old senior that causes misery in every other person’s life?

During the shaking of hands I was surrounded by the new college and university students that smiled broadly and were shaking my hand. They had no idea who I was. They were just filled with freedom and joy… so innocent and so full of love.  Many are not allowed to do shake hands in church or may have never done this before… and they were loving it thoroughly!

When we sat down I smiled. “I like this” came to my mind.

I have liked this in the Presbyterian, Baptist, Brethren, Catholic, Charismatic and a number of other churches.  And when it doesn’t happen I know that I don’t need to be there each week… and move on.

Mind I know that if I was stuck in an unfriendly place and had one of two miserable old biddies or buddies to glare at me – I wouldn’t want to come back either!!!

So today I toast freedom in church… my freedom. Wahoo – it feels so good!

My wife looked at me yesterday and said with a smile, “I think I would like to go to a Black Church someday soon.”  It is no in the plan… I say with a big smile on my face. I am free now – so very free!

Murray Lincoln

1 comment:

David Grant said...

Totally agree Murray. I like everything that you talked about as well. Well almost. Not so much the fact that people needed to be given permission by the pastor to take some time with each other.

But what also came to mind was Brooks from the movie Shawshank Redemption.

Did Jesus really die to have us create the system you are describing? No doubt, it has to feel good for those who attend or they wouldn't keep doing it. But is that what validates all that needs to happen in order to create that little happy feeling?

"The ideal tyranny is that which is ignorantly self-administered by its victims. The most perfect slaves are, therefore, those which blissfully and unawaredly enslave themselves." -- Dresden James