Tuesday, April 21, 2015

SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE

Yesterday's blog brought a flurry of comments on the blog, on Facebook, and via email and text.  An excerpt from a text I received bears sharing,


"All seems like Daisy chains when Christians are literally being beheaded or thrown overboard."

AMEN!

YET-we all seem to feel the need to worship--be it in a home church all the way to the largest of the mega churches.  Our hearts and souls desire to worship the Most High with those of like mind. There is a reason there are so many different denominations and churches---we are all individuals.  The perfect or near perfect fit is determined by "our corporate worship heritage and culture" and the place we find ourselves today based upon our cumulative worship experiences.

End of today's comments concerning yesterday's blog.




Today concerns my view of attending church as a single woman and  my hyper awareness of what seems to be a caste system within the body.  I dare say-I may be the only one who feels this way and depending upon your situation it may never have occurred to you there is any division among the body.  This ONLY reflects my perspective and admittedly I am super sensitive.

The line up of the castes seems to be a division based upon martial status.  I have been at the top and now sit at the bottom, so I understand some of the reasons for this happening.  The top social order of the church is the complete family.  Depending upon the church, within this division those with children still at home may take the top step, especially in today's Bible churches and the other married couples just below.  The widows are on equal ground with those who are married, but receive special honorary status due to their loss.  Then you have the singles---those singles who have never been married are at the top of this division, but at the bottom of the layers are those who are divorced.

In fairness, I never experienced this in the last church I belonged to in Ruston.  Perhaps because I was married when I began attending it, perhaps because the body had learned who I was, and perhaps it was just the church.  I will never know, but I never felt slighted because of the change in my martial status.  In fact I felt supported and uplifted during some of the darkest days of my life.

What do I base my system on?  Observation and experiences.  When a church has a Sunday School class comprised of divorced women, it struck me as strange.  When asked my martial status and having to say divorced, I had some become uncomfortable and look for an exit to the conversation.  In general many within the Body seem uncomfortable with divorce and not know quite what to do with someone who is in this situation.

What is my solution?  In the wonderful small group, which I was part of for almost 10 years, we had a wide range of age and martial status.  Varying ages by 30 years and married,  widowed, and divorced were all represented.  It looked like life!  There is so much to be gained from one another--if we only take the time to listen to the stories and experiences of those who are not our mirror image.  It was a beautiful thing to witness everything from birth to death and all that can come in between.  We lived life together, upheld each other, and loved each other well.  We looked at each other through the eyes of acceptance and no prejudice.  It was an equal playing field.

"Birds of a feather flock together,"  may be true especially within The Church.  I find it quite interesting the other institution here that I belong to, The Y, seems to be quite different.  I have made friends with singles, divorced, married, same sex couples, reprobates, and saints.  There seems to be no prejudice when working together for the goal of fitness.  Interesting!  Is the common goal, the great equalizer?  What about the common goal of worshiping Almighty God?

I am reminded who Jesus sought out and hung around with.  NOT the married couples with 2.25 kids or the empty nester sailing into the sunset together.  No, Jesus, sought the sinners, the fallen, the disenfranchised, the shunned, the outcast.  Jesus looked at all through the eyes of love and grace.  OH, that we could emulate his actions and love one another.

Am I off base?  Are you inclusive of all-no matter their martial status?  Anxious to hear from you again.  Perhaps I need to grow a thicker skin ---tell me what you think.

  I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.--Romans 16:17







14 comments:

  1. I've been involved in a bazillion groups along the way. But, for sure, the richest groups with the healthiest fellowship have cut across all lines. A little bit of everybody, and a whole lot of life done well together.

    I'm with you, Lulu ... would love to see more of this kind of open and inclusive fellowship instead of the niche kind of interaction that's too often available.

    Great discussion going on here!

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    1. We all long to be part of the family. The big question in my mind is how do we achieve this? Always treasure your wisdom!!
      Blessings, Friend!

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  2. Having attended many churches (admittedly all Catholic) I have never met a caste system based on marital status or sexual orientation. Yes, most churches have their cliques mostly based I find on the way we pray I suppose rather than anything else. There's the 8:00am morning Mass - quick, short, little sermon. The (:30 more Charismatic I suppose with lively guitars, flutes, and a happy organ. The 11:15 though the orgaon is played by someone so slow that he'd send an insomniac into a coma. No wonder organs have a little mirror by the side of the player - it's for him to check whether the choir is overtaking him!

    Our churches have all types of individuals, married, singles, divorced and widows. I never noticed any divisions within such groups.

    My advice Lulu is to continue searching for your ideal church. It's out there and God is no doubt encouraging you to find it. He has a place ready for you where your contribution will be most welcome.

    God bless.

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  3. I meant to say the 9:30 Mass is Charismatic. My keyboard is agnostic!

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  4. VICTOR- I may well drive 😜 to England to put a face with this humor ! I am looking but perhaps the Catholic chuch is a little less relational than the Protestant? Get in-say Mass-get out??? NOT criticizing only thinking the emphasis is different in the denomination ! STILL always like your comments , Friend!

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    1. Hi Lulu,

      A well drawn picture of me can be found on my Blog if you click at the top "About the Author". Visiting me in England is easy. Take the route out of town; drive until you find the sea, take a boat going east and when you arrive in England take the route out of seaport and turn at the third round-about.

      I've been to a number of Catholic churches - we have six in town. Each has a somewhat different Mass - e.g. the singing (old traditional versus modern guitars), length of sermons, how good/boring is the priest etc ... But all seem to have one thing in common now I think of it. At the end of Mass the priest stands by the door and shakes hands with everyone leaving. So he quickly recognises a new comer and may well welcome them and start a conversation. Also, we have a book at the back of the church where we encourage newcomers to sign their names/address/phone number if they want to. This is then followed by contact on the phone and even a visit at home.

      I'll ask our priest to look out for you after Mass this Sunday.

      God bless.

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  5. Giggling, drive to England?????? Do I need to have a geography lesson with you, lolol. (sorry, had to put some humor in there, wink)--I'll tell you, I completely understand where your coming from...even a married couple who join a married couples group, well...never mind....I have sense lost my train of thought, sorry about that. (to much going on right now to concentrate--end of term is coming up--and my brain is on that, smiles.) Blessings

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    1. ROAD TRIP, Linda! I'll pick you up on the way!!!! Hang in there--the end is in sight!

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  6. Sorry to be a Debby Downer but I'm so done with the physical church I quit thinking about it. It would take an entire blog post to write about all my bad experiences. *sigh* I don't think God has had anything to do with church since Roman times. If I need to socialize, though, I just remember it's a clique. That's helps me get through it. I hope you find your niche soon. I know it must be lonely living in Egypt. *wink* I'll crawl back in my hold now ... *lol*
    May the Lord bless and keep you. ~:)

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    1. AH, Sparky, the masses of the disenfranchised! There are growing numbers and LOTS being written about it. I am reading a book about that very thing currently. Will let you know if she has any answers. In the meanwhile, worship with every breath you take, Friend!
      Blessings!

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  7. Have you tried "medium sized" churches? Traditional churches with a good sized membership? Genesis Methodist, University Christian, St. Stephen's Presbyterian, St. Paul's Lutheran, Wedgewood Baptist are a few that come to mind that might fit that "category".

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    1. Vicky, I am making the rounds. The catch is I enjoy contemporary worship, and I am fairly conservative. I will find a fit--just got to keep looking!
      Thanks for your suggestions!

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  8. "The top social order of the church is the complete family." Your caste divisions resonate with me completely. Perfectly put especially the observation of the widow. This is definitely my observation too. I am divorced and over 60 (a double whammy in my book). I make a huge effort to connect with someone at church but I do find sitting all alone in this family oriented environment rather demoralizing. Hope no one wants to tell me to grow up because I hate feeling like this and I beat myself up sometimes for not just going with the flow. I guess I can say I downright hate sitting alone or being in any social setting alone. I have actually sat in an empty row where NO ONE dared to venture. I never see families inviting us divorced lady over for dinner. When I was married, I went to church as a spiritually single mom but that was different because my kids drew me into different circles. I go to church to worship God, hear his Word proclaimed, and to be in community with like-minded people. I used to love church but lately, it can be an effort to go and I do have to pray about feelings that smother my worship. I think it has changed for me because of being divorced but I will go to church no matter what cause I do not feel God wants me to miss out on what is happening with his church.

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    1. Carol, I am 66--and yes it is a double whammy! I totally empathize with your feelings and KNOW where God wants me. At times, I feel like the lepor. I want to shout, "I PROMISE it is not catching!" My dear friend, who is a Christian counselor tells me we remind others no marriage is guaranteed. For whatever the reason, we seem to be the invisible. Thank you for your encouragement!
      Blessings!

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Your comments keep my writing and often cause me to think. A written form of a hug or a pat on the back and an occasional slap into reality---I treasure them all!