Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Fun with Fundamentalists

It's early evening and I'm sitting on my in-laws' couch attempting to relax while listening to the beginning of the effects of Hurricane Katrina going on outside. I thought I would get into the routine of sharing the "growing edges" that I've been working on since CPE ended. I remember in my final eval. presentation that TV challenged me to face my fundamentalist roots and work through them. I think perhaps TV thought this would help my issue of claiming pastoral authority and I tend to agree with him on this one.

So God must have been speaking truth through TV, because I've had the wonderful privilege of getting up close and personal with my "fundie" roots for the past two Sundays. Two Sundays ago, I went to church with my parents and listened to a 45 minute sermon that was from John 1:1-15 and the title was Spiritual Alignment: Abiding in Christ. Sadly, the only thing I can remember from it was a ton of prooftexting and a story of how the Pastor was car shopping with his daughter and when the salesperson told him he was an athiest, the pastor told him how he shouldn't be an athiest and through a weak-assed argument based loosely on Intelligent Design, convinced this athiest to check out the local fundie church. T (my spouse) and I came away from it all convinced that the pastor whipped this 45 minute puppy up in the 23rd hour. How someone can talk about pretty much nothing for 45 minutes, I still don't quite know :-)

Which leads me to this past Sunday that somehow we woke up at 6:30 Eastern time (5:30 Central) and went to the 8am service at T's parent's American Baptist church. Their senior pastor has recently left so we hoped that interim pastor would be a bit different. Sadly, another 45 minute sermon later I learned that the message of Acts 2:14-41 is basically that Jesus brings both grace and wrath and we are God's enemies with God's wrath dangling over our heads unless we embrace the Truth and Facts about Jesus. I'm not joking, at one point I looked above my head wondering if I could see this wrath the pastor was talking about. Towards the end of the sermon, the pastor took a moment to tell us that this sermon wasn't just his opinion or just based on his experience but these are the facts and it's our decision to accept the facts or be God's enemies. Yikes!

So after being a part of these services, I sit here and think hmmmmmm..... why has God given me the opportunity to witness these sermons? What can I learn about these communities and myself through these experiences? Right now what I can glean are a few things. First, I've realized I need to treat these communities with respect even if they do not respect me. Yes, I can be frustrated, even angry with the messages they convey but I don't think I was raised in this type of community for no reason. I still understand these people in part. They are a part of my history which will always remain with me. I need to learn from them and realize that many people feel and believe the way they do. Their reality is the reality of many and it's my job to learn how to continue to connect with them even if I disagree. I see this most clearly with my parents and T's parents and extended family. I need to claim my pastoral authority so I am able to clearly communicate my vocation to those who would reject but doing so with grace and respect.

I don't know if I have much more to say about this for now but I'm sure it will be revisited. Thank you for reading and journeying with me on this topic. :-)


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