Thursday, February 14, 2008

All God's children

“At least one of the purposes of church is to remind us that God has other children, easily as precious as we. Baptism and narcissism cancel each other out.” --Barbara Brown Taylor

I know and love a number of people who have Church Issues. They've been badly used or disenfranchised by the church in a variety of ways:
  • declared or brushed off as unwelcome, due to their homosexuality/politics/family status/ insert-your-random-circumstance-here
  • burned out by deep involvement, or generally smacked around by church politics and infighting
  • were only loosely connected to begin with, and are Seriously Turned Off by the press coverage, heavily focused on polarizing social issues
Many of these friends have expressed open wonderment at my desire for engagement with the church. And I don't necessarily have any all-encompassing answer for them, except that I'm a baptized member of the body of Christ. For me, this means that these are my people, for better or worse.

Also, if I just shrug off what's wrong with the church, I cede that part of it to those with whom I disagree, and nothing ever changes. Sometimes we have to learn to live together within the space between two disparate points of view or modes of behavior.

More importantly, though, I recognize what's right with the church--this is my family, and I love them. They have offered me care and connection and a context in which to do the work that I so love to do. Also, I can't remember who said this originally, but "you can develop everything you ever need all by yourself... except for character." We need each other on a very basic level.

Today, I'm angry with one of my brothers in my congregation, but he is my brother. We disagree about a number of things, but I'm working hard to remember that he is my brother. Once I'm calm enough to talk with him, it's my hope that we'll both be better for having to work out our differences in the context of the community. Humility is absolutely necessary in order to live together faithfully; narcissism is an impossible modus operandi for the baptized.

For now, as I'm living inside the tension, I'll keep on praying for the wits and grace to live in a way that honors this belief. :-)

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