I’ve spent more than 10 years of my life now processing through my faith, thinking critically, reading widely and experiencing church life more broadly. I have swung between abject despair and high hope. I have attended the mega-McChurch, the smaller, organic communities and traditional mainline and none at all. I’ve criticised and analysed, doubted and rejected. I’ve picked through theology and eschatology, pneumatology and ecclesiology. I’ve argued. I’ve decided I finally know something for sure just to have it deposed from its throne in no time flat.
I’ve been part of the emerging church (and I kind of still am in the truest sense of the word) but sang its swan song while secretly hoping for its resurrection. I was talking postmodern and missional living before it was TMd by the book/blog industry. I’ve rounded out the faith traditions of my younger years with ancient and new thinkers. This nondenominational charismatic kid embraced liturgy and hymns, monastics and mystics (charismatics find it a bit easier to love those ancient mystics, let’s be honest). This evangelical product of the apologetics movement of the 80s has embraced nuance and subtleties, even a few heresies (hell, anyone?).
But the truth is that I hold myself a bit aloof in church, struggling and over-thinking, feeling a bit apart from it all. I’m wondering as we sing and preach about the truth of the words. I’m clapping on beat (most of the time) but I’m not feeling free.
I know what I think but I’m not sure what I feel.
So here I am in church on Sunday morning. I am the mother now, you see, the one juggling three tinies, the skeptic for every ritual and statement, wearing jeans and purple shadows under tired eyes on Easter Sunday, and I’m so not cool.
But the music starts and I’m weeping through the songs about the wonderful cross while two tinies colour pictures at my feet on the gym floor and I sway with the newborn in one arm, the other raised to the gym lights.
There is a rough-hewn cross, 12 feet high, at the front of the church and we all flood to the altar, covering it with sunshine coloured daffodils and pink hued tulips until the entire cross is covered in a bower of spring flowers and I can’t even look at it without wanting to shout out loud words like “Hallelujah!” This is no sober, somber day. The music is loud and everyone is moving and dancing – it’s a celebration, a party, full of life.
I think I’ve never seen more beautiful people in my life.
My tinies spotted the flags waving, the girls spinning, the mamas bouncing and the men – even the men! – laughing out loud, arms outstretched and they want to know, can we do it, too?
I am too cool for this surely. I am too smart. I know too much. I have opinions on everything and can critically weigh the benefits of dancing or not, of flags or not, of motivations of the heart and spectacles and performance based worship, let alone the viability of Sunday morning gatherings and theology of place.
But you know what? It comes down to this:
photo source: abby vineyard facebook group