Friday, September 05, 2008

Thanks to an Anonymous Reader ...

Over the last few days I think I've come to understand why I am no longer welcome to preach or be in active ministry in the United Church of Canada ... my faith is not a faith of FEAR and INTOLERANCE and harsh JUDGEMENT.

My faith is about taking the Gospel seriously and living AND proclaiming the transformative truths that are contained within it.

My faith is about holding up a standard to people within the Congregations and asking the simple question - CAN YOU DO BETTER in your faith walk?

The role of a prophetic voice in a Church is not to be liked, but to ask the questions no one wants to acknowledge much less ask or live. So the reception of a prophet is never warm and friendly. Look back on the Biblical examples, and the life of Jesus himself.

Now lest anyone jump on me and say - "he thinks he Jesus," let me say - QUITE the contrary. I merely take the example Jesus offers and try to apply it to my EVERYDAY life. I chose consciously not to live it for an hour on Sunday and forget about it the rest of the week like too many who people the Board tables and congregations of the United Churches I've experienced.

To me faith is to be lived in every moment. It doesn't mean we won't and don't make mistakes, it means we're trying the best we can to be consistent and faithful ... and when we do make mistakes we let our conscience and our heart guide us to say the simple words - "I'm sorry" and to make amends.

But this morning, I found the following comment in my dashboard here and realized as I read it that I simply don't fit in the United Church of Canada. Because the United Church is a place of judgement, fear and anger ... the changes they are facing have taken them to a place of bitterness where the welcome mat is not only rolled up, it's being swung at anyone who dares to disturb the comfortable vision of what has BEEN by suggesting there is a better and more faithful way of living one's life ... the simple harsh reality is - a faithful Church has no room for judgement, anger or bitterness and today's United Churches are brimming with ALL of those things, and most distressing of all, too many Churches are, and they simply won't open their eyes and hearts to see that reality ...

Maybe one day ...

For now, my thanks to the anonymous reader who offered me the following words:

My dear brother in christ you don't know how happy... My dear brother in christ you don't know how happy I am to know of someone, that doesn't preach hatred about goths. on behalf of the gothic orthadox church of christ, thank you.

3 comments:

yourownpersonal said...

Shawn, I weep for you, because you can't find a home. But I think that has more to do about you and your issues than that of the United Church.

What I've read off this blog, you've had some tough experiences, but in the near recent past, you shifted 50 miles away with YOUR baggage in tow. No wonder you haven't gotten a fair shake in a new town. The scales are still on people's eyes, the leprosy still on your skin.

And you expecting to be welcomed with open arms is a pretty hard thing to happen. We're disciples, not Christ himself. We mess up. We make mistakes. We are FAR from perfect. (Sound familiar?)

I know you want to say it's "our" problem (said by someone deeply entrenched in the dogma) and as you being someone clearly outside of the church, but it's time to forgive the church. And every time I read one of these "picking the scabs" postings, I fear forgiveness will never happen. I say this not for that whole "lost sheep," but more the self-imposed torture you put yourself through everytime you think of it. It's time to turn the cheek, wipe the dust, and forgive, seventy times seven. And that's your job.

I'm sure you will cast me in the fearful, judgmental bunch, and if that helps you, fine, but methinks he doth protest too much after the intense fear and judgment I read from you in this post.

I've been around the block long enough to experience blessing that is within the United Church (and others..) congregations. I think your experience has been extremely limited (especially if it's been limited from the view from behind the pulpit). And I fear, that all YOU can see now, is what you want to, the negative, unhealthy stuff that exists in all churches.

Shawn, I weep for you.

shawn said...

I don't cast you in a place of judgement ... quite the contrary ...

I've moved to a new community and have found my place and a welcome and it is OUTSIDE the church with people who like me have been rejected by the Church ... in the process we've found and may well have become a church in the fullest sense of the word.

Over the last few days I've been in conversation with a person who is hurting even more than I, and who has spoken of their experience of Minnedosa being a harsh, unforgiving, judgemental and brutal place filled with gossip and lies ... the stuff they have endured is breath-taking to say the least ...

So, am I picking a scab - not really - it's a gaping wound that is festering and is untended ... and it is being ignored by people who can and should be about HEALING ...

I have issues with the structure of the Church that merely shrugs its shoulders and says "what can we do?" when confronted with injustice ... Do I dwell on it? Not really - I have a job I love that is free of the church and the small mindedness that marks the journey thus far ... Is it a perfect setting? No, but the one difference is where I work now there is communication and a willingness to talk about things rather than blind sided attacks and a fake facade of niceness while a knife is held behind one's back.

My biggest issue has been the simple fact that a year ago I was sent away to do a series of remedial and disciplinary undertakings ... they were uncomfortable, they were difficult, and they were painfully gut-wrenching - but I did them ... and the impact of them continues to reverberate through my being ... I was ORDERED to do these things - but there was no reciprocal undertaking by the other parties in the conflicts I was part of ... AND there was and remains NO RECOGNITION by "the powers that be" at ANY level of the Church beyond those I worked directly with, that I experienced any positives from those experiences ...

THAT is my issue ... and I'm not yet prepared to let it go ... BUT - from that experience I've gained quite alot that has helped me in my journey and current milieu ... I am not the same person I was a year ago, or three years ago ... I am continuing on a journey ...

I will reserve the right to criticize and institution that embodies hypocrisy and injustice ... THAT is my calling of faith ... my voice may well be shrill and will be dismissed by many because of its shrillness, or bluntness - but it doesn't diminish the self-critical reflections I offer ...

So, thanks - I do value your opinion, and the very fact you have the willingness and dare I say courage to say these things to me puts you in a very different place from those who use gossip, slander and anonymity to perpetuate their nonsense ... conversation and dialogue is healthy - sniping from the shadows is toxic - and the United Church in Western Manitoba is very good at the sniping NOT the dialogue ...

DigitalZen said...

I believe there are two kinds of congregations, those that feel predominantly g뒠ood about themselves and don't want to feel badly, and those who feel the need for improvement. The first seem far more common in our society than the second.