Friday, November 7, 2008


I have had a perfect week in South Carolina with my mother, sister, and her family. The weather has been foul, as it frequently seems to be when I'm here, the Redskins lost, Mom had a flat that needed mending, but my nephew, already 2 1/2, and the simple routine of family have been an ideal band-aid for a broken heart.

We went shopping for new jammies, had pillow fights on the floor, saw elephants and petted llamas, acted out Wii boxing matches, crashed a lot of toy cars, and played on the swings. My mom and sister have listened to my stories and laughed at my dumb jokes. There have been meals at home, at restaurants, and at parties. There has been plenty of beer, wine, and ice cream.

On the last day I worked last week, I came into my office to find a gift bag on my office chair -- my sweet friend/colleague K. had put together a "first night home alone" kit that included random things with a note explaining why each one was included -- trashy magazines for passing the time, tissues for crying, nail polish for getting pretty, cat treats for bribing the cat to snuggle, chocolate because it makes things better, and Starburst for remembering happier times (she and I spent a rainy afternoon in Florida seeing how many Starburst we could reasonably chew at one time -- the answer = a measely 2).

My pastor has been blogging her frustrations with the mainline church over the past several days, using the church's 6pm emerging worship service as an example of essentially a more meaningful, relevant way to do things as this group is far more in community with each other -- they don't just see each other on Sundays and call it done. The worship is inconsequential but the Monday night burgers are where "church" really happens in this community.

As a Mainliner who is interested in remaining a Mainliner, I can safely say that my community includes those I worship with on Sunday mornings, but the things I've learned through traditional practices in an institutional church have equipped me to love and be loved in my own family and in those other circles I would call family too. My dinner club, bocce team, hospice volunteers, and even my patients are my community. I have learned to see God's hand in these and so many other relationships that I'm okay if I don't have a weekly dinner with other people I worship with on Sundays. Weekly worship is absolutely consequential for me, as I need the discipline of time set aside to ask for forgiveness, be assured of that forgiveness, hear scripture explained by someone who has been trained to bring it into a context, and pray for all kinds of things.

There is more than one way to "do church", and certainly more than one way to be in community with others. People seem to find their way into whatever version of community works for them, and if they can't/won't/don't, maybe that's really the role of the mainline church -- to match someone with people who will pick them up when they need it and lift them up no matter what.

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