Thursday, 17 December 2015

More about liturgy and other questions

(Originally journalled February 2-3, 2014)

I wonder . . . how did my mom and dad feel about those three "Anglican" years in the small community where there was no choice? About about what "evangelicals" said about "those liberals"? Did they just "grit their teeth" and put up with it until they could get to larger towns where "real Christian" churches were? I remember Mom said she always felt the lay reader there was a "real Christian." That's something, I guess . . . I just can't imagine my mom--or grandpa--feeling that way. . . judgmental, it sounds like to me now . . . and yet . . .

Well, I am going to meet with a dear friend who is Catholic (and was Protestant at one time). I'm not looking to "convert" I don't think . . . I just want to hear from someone else who was maybe also looking for something "deeper" and found at least something of what they were looking for.

I've talked to some of the ladies in the "Writing Group of 7" who looked outside the church (into "new age" and "metaphysics" ) . . . and I know that is not the Way nor the answer (or depth) I seek.

I asked my husband about "believing" and he says the thing is to be "discerning." He says when people believe something, it is real to them. And that there are good realities and bad realities . . . and that if you watch people for a while, you will see (in their behaviors and attitudes) what side they are following and believing in . . . and if you are discerning, you will be able to sense which side it is, too, just talking to them or whatever, I guess.

A friend was looking at my "Common Prayer-Pocket Edition" last night. I commented briefly on it . . . and his response was, "I don't like liturgies." I said, "Oh." And then, "Because you were brought up Catholic?" "Yes." "And it was stuffed down your throat?" I added, but he didn't hear me or just didn't answer.

I've been wanting to be able to "believe" like this one or that one, or be "accepting and comfortable" like this one or that one . . .

But I am wondering, right now, if that isn't right . . . because You have made every one of us uniquely; You have placed every one of us in different circumstances. And even though You want us to be family and community, at the same time You want us to know You individually, child and Father, as well as communally, children/family and Father.

So that is not going to look the same for each of us.

It just hit me, right now (Your voice?) that even in the Old Testament, although there were many communal commandments and rituals, when we look at all the different individuals, their personal "relationships" with You were really quite different. They really weren't "cookie cutter." And the same was true in the NT--and through history.

I'm thinking it is possible--even desirable--to have individuality within unity and community and family. Even in human family relationships, though we have general behaviors and attitudes and values we share, and that provide unity and cohesion, at the same time we never have exactly the same relationships. I have 5 children, and though I did my utmost best to "treat them equally," the fact of the matter is that each mother-child relationship has been very different. BUT all are founded in love . . . and though sometimes there have been very rocky moments, individually and in the family as a group, we are family, and we do have an amazing amount of unity and community.

So I don't know, Father, how far that stretches in relation to "believing in You," in "relationship with You," but I suspect pretty far. Yet at some point, there is a line . . . isn't there?

Is there evil? Yes.

Do You want holiness, goodness, love? Yes.

Do we live in a space right now where we tend to slip and slide between? Yes.

Can I even imagine pure goodness right now? No.

But at the same time, evil distresses me more and more, and I sense evil in myself more than ever before, so I'd say, Yes, You are guiding me over to Your side.

It would be easier to "be bold" if I could "be sure." And that's true whether I "believe in a set doctrine," or whether I "believe in and know You." I need to know You MORE, don't I? Deeper!

I think one of the things about liturgy and community is that we get a chance to know You more and better as we see You through the eyes and hearts and lives of others. We have a shared foundation of Your love and Your sacrifice and Your salvation. We have the chance to "know You" more through others--and at the same time to know You personally, individually, uniquely. We need all those ways, I think.

Some people just make it simple, and say You are not. That You don't exist. That even if You did at one time "exist" as part of our mind, our survival mechanism, You are not needed anymore.

But then the majority of such people still speak of love, hate, values, purpose . . . which, if all is simply mechanistic and a result of random chance, can not be real or exist either. At all. To really be an "athiest" one must also be a full anarchist . . . yet, by defining "anarchy," we are, even then, "believing" something beyond simple mechanistic principles of physical science. It seems to me that we cannot escape You. Therefore, the question is, Who are You? And how can we know You? I mean, really know You?

Perhaps it is more about You knowing us, than vice versa.

I feel like I need an anchor to ride out this storm that is life. I know, I know . . . You (Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit) are "the anchor." And Jesus in the flesh was also provided as an anchor, a touchable, physical one for those who saw You. But maybe Your church is also meant to be a kind of anchor--one that stretches across time and through all the places.

Okay, one last question, which I barely dare to even write down . . .

What about all the other people who don't "know You" in the "Christian way"? What about that?

And what ARE the "boundaries" of the "Christian way"?

And what happens to everyone outside those boundaries? And is that "fair"?

Or does "fairness" have anything to do with it? How can God "be love" and yet not be fair? And why, if we are made in Your image, do we have such a longing for "fairness"? And what is it, even? Not "equality," I don't think . . .

Why is everything so complex? Have I just been going through a "desert experience" to, paradoxically (there we go again), draw me close to Yourself?

Am I supposed to "just trust and obey, for there's no other way, to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey"?  (And why does that sound so simplistic--and even desperate?)

Okay, I have a million other questions, but I have to stop for now. My tummy is hurting, like ulcers.

(I was shaking, driving to the Anglican church yesterday . . . like I do when I'm kind of terrified, but also excited and hopeful . . .)

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