Monday, 4 June 2018

Afraid ... of church

Recently (for the past few months) I've been attending an Anglican church (early Sunday morning service; traditional liturgy) and I'm longing to be a "part of the family" ... and yet at the same time, I'm afraid.

The people are lovely and caring. I love the liturgy. The interim minister (who is Lutheran) is friendly and a good preacher. The church building is beautiful in an old-timey traditional way. What's to be afraid of, you might wonder?

It's not this particular gathering of the church I'm afraid of. I'm realizing more and more how deeply my heart was broken a number of years ago when two churches in a row, which I attended with full-heartedness, both dissolved into bitterness and anger and terrible disunity, and one ended up closing down completely. To this day I cannot understand how such a thing could happen, how a family with God as their Father and Christ as their elder brother could tear into each other with such rancour. And I don't think I could bear to go through something like that again. Probably it didn't help that at the same time I was dealing with my mom's dementia, and then both my parents' deaths within a year and a half and most of my children growing up and leaving home in that time period and so on, but out of all those things, the most heart-breaking to me was the acrimony among members of Christ's body. How, oh how, can that happen?

I have been part of a very small house church gathering in the intervening years, and I do love those people and I'm so grateful they accepted me as part of their family at a time when I was in so much pain. But I miss the sense of being part of the family of God across the world and through time--and I have been finding that in the Anglican communion. But oh my goodness--what if something happened and they split at the seams, too? Is it even possible to find a group of believers that really are in unity and will stay that way? How could it be that those who believe in Jesus could descend into such grievous disunity and pain? I don't understand. And yes, I'm afraid.

God, lead me, please.

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