Just As I Am, Without One Plea ~ part twoSo they didn't know why we came that morning, and the pastor boogied out at the end of the service. Not only was this becoming laughable, it was getting predictable.
It wasn’t the first time a pastor left just as we showed up. Nope, it was at least the third. Our son saw it happen once and laughed as he sat through the formal announcement. Then, in private, he pointed a finger at us and said, “It’s you guys, man, it’s you guys.”
Apparently, we are anathema to the local church.
Right after the visit with the little underground group, all their sandwich boards disappeared from Queen Creek. We didn’t even tell our son. We knew what he’d say.
That’s when we got tired and dropped out of the game for a while. Truthfully, we dropped out for a few years, except for visits to our daughter’s church for special events. Last week, her five-year-old asked me,
“Where do you and Chief go to church, YaYa?”
“We don’t have a church, honey,” I answered, “but we watch a pastor we really like on TV on Sundays and almost every day during the week.” That's an answer I never thought I'd give. I felt pretty sad.
But there was no condemnation. Kids are wonderful.
“You and Chief have church at home!” she said enthusiastically, and suddenly I wasn’t ashamed that we’d rather be fed encouragement from a guy on TV than be sitting targets for pew dumpers.
pew dump-er, noun
1. a religious leader who relies on the use of guilt to coerce parishioners to come to the front of the sanctuary at the end of an unsuccessful altar call, admit their imperfections, and enable the religious leader to feel effective
Don’t get me wrong. More than I can express, I miss being in a community of believers who love one another and gather weekly to worship their Savior. I just can’t find one where no gets beat up during the sermon . But I keep hoping.
Back to this morning. We thought we’d give a church a second try. We’d visited this one a few years ago while it was a church plant holding services in a nearby theater. It was a fairly positive experience. At least I was used to being anonymous in a setting like that. Still, they all seemed happy to see one another. That was a plus. And you could eat popcorn in church. Another plus. Everyone had their own rocking recliner to sit in with a built-in cup holder. So far, it was almost like holding church in our living room. But only the pastor said hello to us that day. And since friendliness is at the top of our list right after ‘Send People Home Happy About Jesus”, we called it a day . . . again.
Until this day. The Sunday after Christmas, when we assumed everyone who loves Jesus and now have their own building will still meet together in all three of their advertised morning services to rejoice that He was born.
Wait til my son hears that they canceled church today. On the first Sunday in over a year that we’ve tried to find that elusive group of friendly believers who want people like us in their church family. We, in all our notorious splendor, showed up on time. And church was canceled.
Maybe it is us.Well, fine. We can take a hint. Lock up the church without explanation. Send the pastor on sabbatical. Hide all the sandwich boards!
I guess we’ll just keep having church at home with that pastor guy on TV. So far, he hasn't heard about us or our reputation, so let's just keep this among ourselves. I don't know what I'll do if they send him on a sabbatical.
I'm starting to think that, compared to us, Walter Mitty was a realist.
Photo courtesy of documentarist's photostream at Flickr.com http://www.flickr.com/photos/65112651@N00/473084939/in/photolist-HNFET-HNFJv-HNGb2-HNH7M-QoaVM-2W44Tz-4ukbcQ-4vnYhK-4xfm4w-4Us9kK-51sCnC-54hohm-54hJCu-57ywJJ-5iyMxF-5mB8ED-5mB8Hv-5mB8LX-5z2PTV-5FNChj-5UnrxT-5YWqEq-63CAj1-6bR3BD-6hzo71-6vWoVK-6y4xT6-6W1cms-77gaqX-7tqfid-ic3h7N-dvSm1z-dvXVTq-dvSpJe-dvXUBW-dvSnNp-dvXV5d-dvXUns-dvSjGz-dvSo7c-dvSpW8-dvXXkb-dvXXPs-dvXTQh-dvXWfS-dvSomT-dvSqaH-dvSpkP-ekpX9Q-bNwYV2-bNwZ6M