The title of this blog post refers to (for this particular blog post) things that don’t work for me at church. In a church I visit, or a church I frequent.
I went to University Presbyterian Church today, in Seattle. I have some negative history with this church, and it’s a tall steeple church with history in the confessional church movement from some years back. My history goes back to middle school, when I felt judged due to the lack of a two-parent family. And the fact that my mom did not go to church with me. Whether or not those judgements really happened is neither here, nor there, but it is what a 13/14 year old me felt. Then when my goddaughter was baptized here, I was expecting to be asked questions and to be held accountable for the life I was being asked to assist with. I wasn’t. I wasn’t asked a single question, didn’t have to answer a single question, didn’t say a single thing. I was displeased.
So, when I was in Louisville this last time, talking with friends about why I didn’t want to go to UPC, one of my friends said, “Well, maybe you should go to UPC, confront those things, and see if you can make waves.” I looked at her and said, “No fucking way… okay, maybe.” Now it is almost 6 months later, and I finally went. I’m going to try to broach the discomfort in a way that encourages me to ask the questions I encourage others to ask.
Back to the topic at hand: Things that don’t work for me.
In a church, things that don’t work for me are non-inclusive language and no passing of the peace. We didn’t pass the peace today! I was dumbfounded. How is that NOT part of a good old-fashioned frozen chosen service? Did I miss a memo? Did I not vote on something? We greeted one another, said good morning, but NO PASSING OF THE PEACE! That weirds me out. When I commented on it on facebook, I had two friends who passed me the peace there. I am grateful for you both, Molly and Dave (and not the husband and wife pair in Louisville!). Thank you. Next, inclusive language is a biggie for me. I don’t (and maybe I’ll open a can of worms here) think that God is only in a male or female or genderless format. I say “the prayer that Jesus taught us to say” as follows: “Our Father Mother God, hallowed be thy name…” It’s what I do. I don’t honestly know how to change it at this point in my life. I say The Doxology with God and Son and Holy Ghost. It is who I am. I don’t believe that God is only male or female. Sometimes God to me is more of a Father figure, sometimes more of a Mother figure.
So, I went to UPC. I will try other services. I can’t say that I’ll stick it out, but I will try to do so. I do need more inclusive language. I do need more peace to be passed. After all, it is the Peace that passes all understanding, the Peace of Jesus Christ, La Paz de Christo. I do like to have it passed to me, and to give it to others.
Here ends a random, off the cuff blog post, on the continued topic of church shopping. This week marks the 2nd time in two weeks I went to church. Whoa. And because I have a unique voice (it’s mine, no one else has it), I will continue to try to blog and post and talk about this church shopping I am undertaking again. I will be skipping church next week, but will be back at it on the 17th.
This evening, in fact, I’m going to go back to UPC to see what they have to say about sexuality and the bible. I’m interested in seeing if what I know of UPC from years ago is still true. And if it is, it’s really not something I can get on board with. It’s another thing that makes me uncomfortable.