As it turns out, that wasn’t snow coming down all day yesterday, it was cement. And this morning I woke up and got in my car to go to church but the cement had fastened me to the ground, and probably at this point I should have said, “Oh, these are no conditions to drive in if I can’t even get out of my driveway!” But I was stubborn, and rocked my car back and forth, drive, reverse, drive, reverse, and my neighbor even came over and helped me push because she must have thought my mission was urgent, if I was so determined to get on the road, like perhaps I was called in to deliver a baby at the hospital or some such thing. Well I managed eventually to pull out and onto a main, plowed, road, and I arrived at the little Lutheran church I was planning to visit and was greeted by a sign that read, “No Church today,” because most sensible people would have stayed in.
Undeterred, I drove a bit further and stopped at the rock and roll church, which was packed, filled with people perhaps like me who refused to give up to some obstacle. The minister at the rock and roll church was talking about Christ’s persona as a passionate bridegroom, which should have been particularly interesting to me because I had just one day earlier had a conversation with a good friend about this idea. And at the beginning it was interesting and I could follow along. But then I noticed that the minister had peppered his sermon with a few subtly disparaging comments about “the liberals” which seemed really unnecessary and I just shut down. I couldn’t listen to him anymore. And when they began to serve communion I slipped out along with a couple people who were leaving to smoke a cigarette, and as I tromped through the thick wet snow back to my car I thought, maybe even out loud, “Why did I do this?” Really, maybe I should have stayed in this morning.
I don’t think it was just his comments about liberals in the midst of a message of Christ’s intense love for his created children (Even the liberals! Even the atheists!) although that did frustrate me. Why do we have to use these labels and make these little jabs at each other? It’s not just conservative Christians thumbing their noses at liberals and secular thinkers, it is also liberals and secular thinkers demeaning Christians as ignorant fundamentalists. And while one (the fundamentalist) preaches that God loves all, and one (the liberal) preaches that we must be accepting and tolerant of all beliefs, somehow these two seemingly cooperative ideas do not mesh and in fact they repel in an almost violent way. It’s frustrating. And here is the thing, I believe there is an absolute truth, I think there has to be, it just makes sense to me that way. And if there is an absolute truth there really can’t be any universal agreement, ever, unless we’re all agreeing to believe the same thing. I think that’s why I’m discouraged by it, because I have a foot in both camps, a Christian first and foremost, with some increasingly liberal views about some things, and I don’t feel conflicted about it most of the time. But I do feel conflicted when I hear one of my affiliates speak badly of another one of my affiliates. I want everyone to get along, but know they can’t, or won’t. And maybe they shouldn’t, and I’m a phony for trying to reconcile these two parts of myself.
Well anyway, after I left the church I stopped at the video store because I’ve been trying to rent Waitress, but it was checked out, just as it was checked out at the place I stopped at yesterday, and I’m starting to get that feeling that I had when I was rocking my car in the driveway this morning, trying to get out. I wanted to rent the movie at first, but now it’s turned into something else. I want to get it because some force is telling me I can’t. Well, maybe they’re right.
Yikes, so this ended up being kind of a depressing post. I think what it boils down to is this: I was looking forward to an Advent service today, a peaceful, joyful Advent service, and didn’t get one. But it is still Advent, whether the churches are closed down or not. Okay? Stay warm and dry, everyone! Jesus is coming!