A Spot at the Table (Communion)

IMG_9313Communion. Eucharist. The Divine Meal. What does it all mean? Why do churches partake in this every Sunday, or twice a year, or in between church services the first Sunday of the month? Why are there so many arguments about what it means from a theological standpoint?

Throughout Christian history, so much has been said on Eucharist and what it means. I grew up Catholic, so Communion was very particular. We had a lot of rules and a lot of regulations. I took lessons for my First Communion when I was in 2nd grade, an event I wore a clean and white dress for. When I look back to that day, I remember feeling excluded by my peers, but I can’t remember why. I think they wouldn’t let me take a photo with them. My teacher was nice enough to take a photo with me. But then when I ate the paper flakes and drank the wine, it felt Holy.

I was an altar server for awhile, so I can’t tell you how many times I watched the Catholic Transfiguration of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood. To this day, however, I still don’t quite understand the concept. What I did understand? That there were a LOT of rules. I had to do confession twice a year. I had to keep going to Mass. I couldn’t get married outside the church. I couldn’t get divorced. I couldn’t have sex. All of these things would limit access to the Eucharist.

When I went to Protestant churches later on, the little juice cups got passed around with the little bread pieces attached… or at chapels in college, I’d tear off a piece of bread and dip it in the juice. I no longer believed that I was eating the Body of Jesus Christ, but something kept drawing me back to it. Read More »

Why I’m Exhausted by “A Church is not THE Church” and Why I’m Glad I Was Churchless

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Have you ever heard someone be very vulnerable and exposed, share their story about how the Church has hurt them, and then someone else said, “Listen, I get it. But you need to remember a church is not the church! You shouldn’t ditch the necessity of church just because of a few bad apples.”

Do you know the word for that?

Dismissive.

For the same reason, I’m exhausted by hearing “not all men are going to rape you, so stop being afraid”. I’m exhausted by basically hearing “you were vulnerable. someone hurt you. but stop having rational fears that relate to the pain you went through.”

“Not all men”

“Not all cops”

“Not all white people”

“Not all Christians”

Dismissive. Is your theory right? Sure. It is true that not all Christians will be like the ones who hurt you? Sure. But people are trying to protect themselves for damn good reason. The theory is right, but it isn’t helpful to say. In fact, it’s harmful.

Here’s why if you feel confused.

Church is an extremely vulnerable place. People don’t usually go to church because they’re bored. They go because their heart is longing for something more; they go because it’s a shot at healing; they go because they want to belong. These are all extremely vulnerable things to feel. There is no place for dismissiveness.

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Love is such a funny term

For my last night at junior high, the kids signed one card and the leaders another.

The kids card is amazing. Just so special to have all their names, as corny as it sounds. The card was perfect because it mentioned the memories are easy to take with me.

But the goodbye from the leaders blew me away. Mostly the guys. I expect girls to have emotions but not guys. I mean I know they HAVE them somewhere, but it is locked away somewhere I will never have access to. Alas… Dodger and Luke’s made me cry. Dodger is the biggest jokester ever. I know he is a great and loving friend but I never expected to see that side for myself. Luke is just a natural encourager I’d think by the way it’s written. But I definitely didn’t expect it for me.

I didn’t expect the card. I didn’t expect to grow close to any of these leaders, besides Delaine and Frankie. But I did. And I’m going to miss them all. And I didn’t expect the junior highers to melt my heart. But they did, man oh man did they! I’ll go back to early tonight…

I was “assigned” with a group of high schoolers for caroling which I didn’t think would be a big deal until I sat down in a car with the other college kids and it hit me. Tonight was my last night with the junior high girls. As I said it out loud, my voice cracked. I shocked myself with tears once again but this time in an amazing way. So Callie told me to go to that group, which I did as soon as I got out of the car. And it was so much fun. I really do love those girls, all of them. I found that we cannot “love on” people, we have to love them. There’s a huge difference. I’ve tried to love on kids before and got fed up. I took it as a religious responsibility. But love is a blessing. Love is an amazing blessing. How is it that God’s greatest commandments, requirements, are simply beautiful blessings? To love. That is nuts!

I’ve always been ready to move on. I thought a semester at home would drive me insane. But I don’t want to leave. I will and I will love my time with YWAM. But this semester will never be forgotten. I’m not ready for an end.

I didn’t expect healing. I didn’t expect to form real and fun friendships with Brittany, Dodger, Luke or Nathan. Or the girls in my group. Or people outside junior high either. I didn’t expect any of this. God is so, so much better than we can ever give Him credit for. We can never overestimate our God.

Love is such a funny term. We use it in a variety of ways. I was shown real love by God first through Corey, who I also got to spend time with this semester. Then straight from the Source as I opened myself to His calling. Then others. Then this summer/semester I started loving myself. It isn’t just feeling good- it is taking action. Therapy. Doctors appointments. Weight training. Trying hard in school. Getting sleep. And then, blessed be God, my heart could open to love. It takes a lot of preparation to truly love. I thought I knew love but I don’t think I really got it until recently.

They are right when you say you have to love yourself first. But no one explained it was actions. And if I knew the benefits to loving, I would have down all this sooner. But I am even more thankful for God’s perfect timing.

I’m thankful for all of them. I’m thankful for this semester. I’m thankful for Thursday lunches with Karen and Tuesday afternoons with Amy. I’m thankful for Delaine finding time for me. I’m thankful for Corey continuing to amaze me. I’m thankful for Stuart and his hard work all over the board- he has become the pastor I talk to the most now! I’m thankful for everyone. I gotta stop now before I get too gushy but I think it is too late…

Oh Vista. You will always be home, no matter where my home is.

Am I The Only One Lost?

Do you have to be a member to be enrolled?
Do you have to love Jesus to stand the crowd?
Do you have to sign papers to get to heaven?
Must water cover your face to be friends with God?

We stand so confused, struggling with our reactions
Because the Jesus I know wasn’t taught in Sunday school
But I’ll keep trying to stumble and find my own way
Because none of the paths I’ve heard sound quite right yet

One man is teaching and we’re all listening so
Sometimes I wonder who gave him authority there
Should this not be a group consensus or am I out of line?
For are not all of us equally and differently gifted from God?

I’ll walk into the doors with the sign of the cross
And I’ll try to stand and sit and follow their rules
But I just feel wrong and you’re charging a fee?
To become a member without speaking a word

I’m so sorry that through almost five years I still struggle
It seems like everyone else has their act altogether
So I feel alone at the foot of the cross because
Yeah I got Jesus, but am the only one lost?