church schmurch.

by Ellen



you are half asleep
you are half of a girl
half of a child
maybe five feet deep
as tall as the world
up to your eyes

and you are hogging all the sheets
often balling them up
even drawing the line
and spending half of your time
deciding to roll over

and when you do
I will be there with a smile
expanding far and wide
and i'll pull you in much closer
in my dreams you are queen of the ball

sometimes you off my head
well to me it's a happy ending
for you I'd fall
and that wouldn't hurt at all
not at all

I'll try to keep this one short. I haven't had any strange dreams yet, and I'm not sure if anyone actually reads this, but if you do, I'm sorry if you're bored and I've become uninteresting. I haven't been sleeping really hard lately, so just a few small weird ones, but nothing of great hilarity.

First: I LOVE Calvary Church. I love the community, the family, the people, the relationships. I love working there. I love feeling a part of something bigger. I love the fellowship, the language, and the honest determination to make God's love visible. I love the smells, the tradition (sometimes), the history, the space, the freedom to think out loud. I love the ability to be the myself that God made me to be, and to be able to practice it freely with the other humans practicing being the person God made them to be.

Right now, we're doing a trial run of the 11:15 service. Previously, only about 90 people came to it, so we wanted to try something a little more engaging, less stiff, and a little freer. I went today with my mom, and it was great. I loved seeing a work in progress. I loved the struggle about it, the obvious kinks, and the desire to make it better. I loved it for what it was, and not what it was supposed to be, or what I thought it should be.

I've been really disappointed with some of the REALLY rude comments that have come from the mouths of some of the parishioners and especially from the mouths of some people on our wonderful staff. In a place that is so open to changing individuals, it is surprising closed to helping those individuals change, whether it be with worship style, education, whatever. As Episcopalians, we love our tradition. We have pride in our church, and we turn our noses up when people ask if we actually read the Bible, or even worse, recognize the Pope.

I'm frustrated because some of the wonderful community I'm blessed to be a part of are being just plain mean, taking their issues out on other people, and thinking that what they think is only right and doesn't hurt anyone else. I'm frustrated because some of these family members are disrespecting genuine efforts to make things better, to help our church grow, to welcome in others. It is hard to hear, and even harder to stand by and watch.

I've been to lots of different churches and received something from every one of their worship styles; I think it's interesting to investigate. But when my own community is so stuck in their ways, so unresponsive to what others' hearts are saying, I really feel that it is something that can tear us apart. Some of my Jesus community are being unloving of their neighbor, turning away children, and not welcoming the stranger. It makes me want to stand up in the middle of the service and yell, "Get OVER it! We should just be glad we're all here, alive and with each other! Stop being a jerk, because this is BIGGER THAN YOU."

Our Gospel today was about the vine and branches, and that God is the gardener. Some of us should be the parts that God prunes off because we are being so ungrateful and unworthy of any attention. We are DEAD, and stuck in our ways.

My own heart has been stuck, hardened in the ground. I hear my name being called, and I'm not answering. I'm staying silent. And right now, when I want to yell, I remain silent for the benefit of myself and my job. Elie Wiesel always says that being silent is the worst thing you can EVER do. Whether people are dying by the millions or suffering in our own community, our silence can be the root of even greater pain.

On Tuesday, I'm going to speak up. My problem is actively loving those that I'm so frustrated with. I don't know how to see past my own frustration to discover that the people I'm so frustrated with are also frustrated, and their frustrations are also valid. Everyone thinks their opinion is the most important, and I need to be sensitive to that.

Everything is connected: whether it be my hard heart that I'm frustrated with, or someone else's, it's all the same. I have to be loving towards myself and others. I hope we can all find a place where we are OK with a little discomfort every now and then.

One of my favorite sayings goes, "Jesus came to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." I really think this is true, and couldn't be more so than right now. Silly Episcopalians. Silly denominations.

I'ma start my own damn church.