Seeking community... I'm feeling tired: the search for a new group of Christ's followers is wearing me out! Maybe I should have stuck with the last group, the body of believers at Green Lake Presbyterian. Some good people there, some good friends. Oh, but my ex is there, too. There's that little detail. My departure from Green Lake has everything to do with her; at the same time, it has nothing to do with her. Let me explain.
First of all, I was a newcomer to GL when we started dating. By the time we broke up a year later, I had made some moves and was poised to become a member. A handful of people said they "understood" why I would stay away, given the end of the relationship. There was no question that she would continue going, since, after all, the church was headed at one time by her cousin: Green Lake is family for her. I, on the other hand, feel that I was treated like a step-child. Those who said they understood whatever my decision would be, they had gained this insight without asking me a single question. What kind of understanding was this? It seemed superficial at best, and once stated, the subject never came up again.
I've been strangely quiet on the topic. The breakup took place over a year ago, but just now do I feel as I'm coming to grips. Lacking my own understanding of what I was experiencing, how could anyone else claim it? That kind of superficial engagement I can understand from friends: it's no big fat hairy deal. But from a community of brothers and sisters? Perhaps it is too insubstantial for real accountability, and now more than ever I recognise that I'm looking for accountability in whatever body of believers I join.
Recently I've been reading Alexander Schmemann's great book about orthodoxy, For The Life of The World, and in it is a great passage about church, one that sums up my expectation for the worship experience:
The Church takes us, as it were, to that first evening on which man, called by God to life, opened his eyes and saw what God in His love was giving to him, saw all the beauty, all the glory of the temple in which he was standing, and rendered thanks to God. And in this thanksgiving he became himself.
I think the body of believers I seek are those who are seeking to become themselves, in the light of understanding what grace has done for us, how grace is the very outline of our true being. Tall order.