Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sucker punch

So I’m ready to be received into the Episcopal church on Sunday. I’m not starry-eyed about it. Churches may be divinely inspired but I know they’re all populated by human beings, and I don't expect any church to be perfect. However, in this little congregation I have chosen I am beginning to experience church as I have dreamed for years that it could be, and I’m pretty excited about that.

Then in today’s mail comes a letter from my old parish, where I was a member for 26 years before I left in the midst of a big brouhaha two years ago. At first I assumed they were sending raffle tickets. On those infrequent occasions when there was mail from that church, it was nearly always raffle tickets. I don’t know why I bothered to open it, because I wasn’t planning to sell any raffle tickets, but open it I did.

This is how the letter began:
Dear Parishioner,

We Miss You! Whether you have just been busy or are not sure St. Meltdown's is the right place for you we want you to know you are missed and we would love to see you again. Being an active member of the parish is important on a practical level because it is required for receiving Sacraments and for being a sponsor/godparent. But most importantly – we need you! The Church is a family made up of the people of God which is all of us, including you. When you are not here your absence is felt.

In September and October we will be celebrating parish unity at St. Meltdown’s. Look at the flyer on the other side of this letter for dates and times. Come and hear and see what is going on in your parish!

Turns out that "Hospitality Weekend" is happening this weekend. Too bad I have another engagement.

The letter is signed by the pastor, with a short, handwritten personal note from someone I actually liked and respected. Not exactly warmly personal, but that was always one of my complaints, and I guess they had a lot of letters to send out.

The mailing included a short survey, giving me the opportunity to register that
I/we are disillusioned with:
___ the Catholic church
___ St. Meltdown’s

___ I don’t feel like we are part of the community.

Well, yes.

But my favorite question and possible response is this:
I/we don't go to Mass regularly because?
___I/we do go regularly, we just don't use envelopes.

He calls his own sheep by name ...

What would I have done if I’d received this letter a year ago? And how am I supposed to react now to a form letter that says we miss you? (That is, if you're actually gone we miss you; otherwise, we're sorry we didn't notice you were still here.) And why should I think that anything's really changed there? (Note that the number one reason for being active is so your kids can make First Communion, while We need you! is number two.)


At 8:34 PM, Blogger Nancy said...

However, in this little congregation I have chosen I am beginning to experience church as I have dreamed for years that it could be, and I’m pretty excited about that.

The more I think about it, what was said in the above comment is what really matters when you come right down to it. I beleive that God has placed with in us those dreams of how church should be, and I hope that we all will have the tenacity to keep looking until we find it. All dreams are not alike and neither are all churches. The essence of all churches that are worth going to is the same though...the Love of Christ portrayed in whatever way will reach us as individuals. That love includes connectedness and community and genuine care.

I rejoice with you One Foot as you join your new church family. Do keep writing about it. It helps me a lot to read your thoughts as I ponder my own dreams and desires.

At 4:16 PM, Blogger Widening Circles said...

Thanks, and likewise, I am sure.

At 9:05 PM, Blogger revabi said...

Hey you are where you feel you need to be. Let it go.

Perhaps the other church is trying to make some changes, has a new Priest or is about to die.

I pray all goes well inn this little congregation you have chosen.


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