Saturday, April 11, 2009

Outside the Village Walls

So I happened to see a post card flyer of an event called "the Murder Jesus Project" that i was thinking about checking out tonight. It's hosted by A Village Community, a local Long Beach church. I spent an hour checking out their web sites and watching many of their videos. Here's the one on that project:

From what I could see from many of their creative videos is that they welcome people on life's journey. I found myself wondering if this village community of believers even had the capacity to walk with these kinds of people. Attracting them to the church is one thing, but what happens once they've "attended"? I wonder how willing this village community is to really journeying with us or if they simply wanted to bring people in for an event.

I noted, by the way, that their stated spiritual beliefs is just a link to the Missionary Church denomination and I enjoyed reading about their beliefs that "homosexual activity, like adulterous relationships, is clearly condemned in the Scriptures". Who knows if this particular local church agrees with their denomination mother ship but their site doesn't say otherwise. Would that mean that I'm not welcome in their village community?

And so why would I want to set myself up by trying to join their village only to have them set me outside the village walls once they get to know the real me? Or worse, allow me inside the village square without inviting me into their homes.

[enter sarcasm] And people think of the gay community when they think of the sin of Sodom? (Ezekiel 16:49)

(I know, it sounds like I'm pre-judging this local church but i'm more commenting on mainstream churches in general. I'm still gonna check them out tonight.)

In describing my own journey, I'll often talk about not being a part of an institutional church because I have a different paradigm of "Church" - that Church is the community of believers connected by Spirit and relationship, not a place to go or a thing to do. We are the Church. And i'll often justify not going to a sunday "service" because i'll say that i'm in regular community with believers.

That's not been the case so much these past few months. I've kept myself occupied trying to do good things in the community and I've actually had a great time getting to know many folks in the creative communities and even the green communities. But the truth is, I've been out of fellowship and the next time someone asks me what church I "go" to, I'll probably respond authentically with "I don't".

I've been talking to Jesus about it actually. It's just that I don't connect with or resonate with much of what I see from many churches. I've been around too long and so I can see right through the gimmicks. It just turns me off. And what's more, I'm kinda bugging over people who say one thing but don't follow through. I'd like to see a community of believers who were investing in mutually knowing each other - both regulars and newcomers instead of being content with simply seeing each other at events.

I know tomorrow is Easter. I've no idea what I'll do. And my family decided not to get together for the traditional lunch gathering. It's easy for them to decide that when they all have their own families to be with - spouse and kids and in-laws. I don't have that just yet, being single and all. They are my only family.

I'm not too keen on attending an Easter service either when I barely even go on any other sunday.

You get that I'm not all that concerned with presenting a super gay Christian image, right? This is just me (today), unapologetically.

Either way, me and Jesus are still sticking around doing our thing.


Earl said...

I am glad that you tackled this, man! I too have not been attending Sunday services- now for just about four years. I just don't want to 'play church' anymore. I need to be somewhere that I feel people are not about the religious status quo. I have been praying about it because I have started to miss corporate worship. But I don't ever want to lose sight of the core of what being a Christian is really about ever again, and it's not about being at the sanctuary every Sunday.

Thanks bro!!!

Steve Schmidt said...

I getcha, Eric. I do attend "pseudo-regularly", but I'll admit, many times it's half-hearted. I go because I know it's better than not going. And it does effect my outlook over time when I miss out for long periods.

But really, it IS the people there. The sermon may or may not speak to me that day, but just connecting with a few believers I'm close with is what really motivates me.

Glad you get the "fellowship" part from lots of sources.

Steve said...

Great post, Eric. Brief, honest, and unashamed.

I'm not worried about you at all. Some great things have come out of the "wilderness," you know.

Kathirn said...

I did double duty today. I attended an Eastern Orthodox Church (albeit briefly) for Palm Sunday and then went to The Well (in Feasterville, pa) for Easter breakfast and resurrection service.

I have been struggling with where I fit in the EOC and it's just not coming together. I believe 99% of the EOC's theology - with the exception that I am pro-choice (personally pro life) and...well, I am queer. I also can't stand the patriarchal, misogynistic hoopla, but that isn't unique to the EOC. There is plenty of that in other confessions.

At confession today the priest informed me that he had stumbled upon my blog and was distressed. Asked me if I have been living in sin and whether I am sorry for my sins. It made me so angry that I didn't even stay for service. I am not going to lie and say I am sorry for a "sin" that I don't even think is a sin. I am sinful and fallen, but not because of my sexual orientation. BAH!

I have been attending EOC services less and less. The Well is quickly becoming my home. I feel accepted there and wanted and I think that I that they make up for their lack of liturgical and sacramental foundation in many many ways!

Sorry for babbling.....

Anonymous said...

It's a heartfelt post that struck a responsive chord with me, Eric. I can empathize. I'm out to my associate pastor but not to the senior pastor who lives in and commutes from a different town and will retire in July. The senior is not very gay-friendly. So playing it by ear for now. Life sure gets interesting.

Keep the faith, my friend.

Bill aka Gur Tus from GCN

Anonymous said...

"I'd like to see a community of believers who were investing in mutually knowing each other - both regulars and newcomers instead of being content with simply seeing each other at events."

Amen, brother. Real "fellowship" is hard. It's much easier to just go to a regularly scheduled event every week. Except it's not easier. I hate it. I've been "unchurched" for over two years now, and am grateful for the real relationships I have. But it's been hard for me to keep those up.

I guess I'm just saying, I feel you.