Friday, January 14, 2011

i wonder why...

We were the only church in town
that used the symbol of the Celtic cross...
at least that is what I remember.
It distinguished us
as being different.

We were also one of the few churches

in the town where I grew up
that embraced diversity
to some extent.
We were the first to ordain women.

I'm a child of the church
from day one
raised in the
Presbyterian Church...
the former southern branch
in a small town
on the edge of the
East Texas woods
just north of Houston
in Conroe.

Not the seat of liberalism
by any means.

I was Presbyterian
in a sea of
Church of Christ-ers
and Pentecostals.

In the waves of all

the theology that was spoken
and sometimes crammed into my hands
and down my throat...
being a Presbyterian...
for me
meant space enough
to think and to love in the context of grace.

In actuality we were moderate
if one had to label the church I grew up in...
moderate politics, drinking, smoking, etc.

I was taught we were

the members of
Christ's church
who listened.

Though we had
a slight variety of theological perspectives...
for the most part we learned
how to read and study the Bible
through the eyes and heart of grace.

We learned that understanding ancient scripture
meant studying, considering, pondering
the history and culture of the ancient world.

We learned that the Bible was authoritative...
it guided us, and gave us a glimpse of who God is
and what God desires.

We learned that God inspired, moved, called
those who wrote the words we inherit in the Bible
unlike our conservative brother's and sister's
we affirmed that God did not literally
write each letter, comma and period of the scriptures.

In other words,
God allowed

the holy story we inherit
to be told through the eyes and ears and culture of the time.

After all....a story
if it is to be heard
must be understood by those who hear it.

Bottom line
being Presbyterian
in my early days meant we were an alternative
to the rather radical conservative voices of the Bible Belt.

Bottom line
a Presbyterian
as I was taught...
uses her brain, his heart,
their collective voices
when reading, studying and proclaiming scriptures.

I don't understand what is taking place
when Presbyterians...
some long time, life long Presbyterians
refuse to consider
theological scholarship
concerning what the Bible says and does not say about

(an example: Jack Rogers book...
Jesus, The Bible, and Homosexuality
/Explode the Myths, Heal the Church)

I don't understand the language
of my home church
when they write

"We profess and believe that Scriptures are the one infallible
and inspired word God..."

(By the way that's their typo not mine.
They failed to write the word "of"
when writing "word of God" in their official document.
Interesting....since this is part of the conversation
when talking about how we inherit the written scriptures...
seems typos and other things are possible occurrences when words get written and re-written.)

They go on to write that this "infallible word"
is used for
teaching, rebuking, correcting...

(I'm not sensing much grace in these selected words.)

I know what the word infallible means.
I know how the word is used in religious circles.
I know how the word authoritative and infallible
are used in Presbyterian circles.

I don't know what happened
that the very church
who taught me,
nurtured me,
and affirmed God's call with me
has begun
to sound
an awful lot
like those
intolerant voices
I once heard in the East Texas woods.

I rooted myself
in the walls of the
Presbyterian Church
because there
we focused
on God's grace....
grace enough to listen,
grace enough to not have to agree on everything,
grace enough to celebrate our varied gifts,
grace enough to admit the gray areas of life...
that not every part of God's story,
or our story is Black and White and in our control...
grace enough to allow and celebrate
that God works in ways we don't fully comprehend.

When I was a young member in the church
we wrestled with topics such as
racism, ordination of women and divorce...
and through the journey we discovered grace...
and we became a refuge for those seeking and needing grace.

I read and hear words
from some Presbyterians today...
and wonder

are we no longer
to approach the gray areas of life
with grace
for God to move
and work and heal?

No comments: