Yesterday, I called our minister to tell her that we wanted to be taken off the various church committees we serve on. Our church is a small rural church in Vermont, but we are not isolated from the divisions that are common in this country today.
Church meetings, there are always church meetings, have been microcosms of how we are even divided in our rural church over health and safety protocols with the corona virus. Some wear masks, some don’t, some socially distance, and some don’t. I didn’t want to bring this to the level of another bitter fight, so it seemed best to just withdraw. We will stay home until we get past this virus.
My faith has never been dependent on sitting in church every Sunday and making all the meetings (can you tell I don’t like the meetings). My faith is very personal. It is really non-denominational, and in many ways, not Biblically based. I grew up in a Universalist Church in Barre and this will help to understand where I am with faith.
For me, being in church often feels like some subtle, and sometimes not so subtle coercion. I have never been a great joiner, and in fact, don’t like joining much of anything. Being pushed, even if it is subtle, sort of makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I just don’t like it. I don’t identify with any political party. I resist letting somebody else do my thinking for me. I want to make up my mind on my own, in my own time, and after, what I try to do, some careful deliberation.
I recognize that for many, church is also fills a social need. I am one of those folks, maybe odd, but my social needs get filled during the week. By the end of the week, I have pretty much had all of the socializing I want. Sometimes, I think socializing is highly overrated.
Earlier this year, we had a scripture lesson in the church that had to do with Jesus finding this man all chained up in his village because he was supposed to be possessed by demons. In the story, Jesus cast out the demons and put them in these pigs owned by these two pig farmers. Well, the pigs went crazy being possessed by demons and ran down a hill and jumped off a cliff into a lake where they all drowned. The chained up fellow was supposedly now free of demons.
I thought about this, and I thought, now wait a minute. These pigs and the two pig farmers did not have this coming. How did this solve anything? I don’t get it. I am sorry, but this story does not work for me, and it turns me off.
Ok, so my faith is what it is. I have told people in church that I think God is within and I have constant running discussions with this God within me. No, these discussions are not a parade of Bible passages. They are more the kind of discussions we might say we are having with our conscience. And, so often, these conversations are about right and wrong. I do know the difference, not to say that I always make the good choice, but I do know the difference.
For the foreseeable future, I will not be in church on Sunday. Will, my faith be less? No, it will be the same faith I have always had. And my conversations with God will continue like they always have. I will keep trying to get through life being a decent person, helping when I can, and not doing any harm.