I read Kristin’s post on Reformation Eve at Liberation Theology Lutheran this morning and I can’t get it out of my head.
Two years later, we missed Reformation Sunday because we met up with some grad school friends at Kiawah Island–one group had come all the way from England. During a Reformation Sunday walk on the beach, three of us confessed to being unhappy in our current church homes. Now it’s interesting to reflect that we’ve found a better fit: I changed to a different Lutheran church, one friend switched from the Church of England to being a Quaker, and one has found a wonderful Unitarian church. Did that walk on the beach foster our courage to find a true spiritual home? The spirit of the Reformation was swirling around us!
A simple walk can change our spiritual trajectory? Yes indeed.
8 or 9 years ago, I took a walk in the rain and came home knowing I couldn’t remain in church leadership at my church. On their side, I felt like I had been stepped over and discounted. On my side, I felt like a fraud, like my thinking had diverged so far from what the church preached that I shouldn’t be in leadership. I remained in the church. I even taught Sunday School (I thought I had something to teach them. I did ask a friend to sit in the class with me to keep me accountable to the church’s teaching. I’m not particularly subversive.) I knew I was leaving the state at the end of the year anyway, so I just stepped down from leadership. Since I knew I was leaving, I probably could have gone through the motions for the rest of the year, but I think it would have damaged my soul. That sounds lofty. I don’t really mean it that way, but I was done.
8 or 9 days ago, I took a walk in the rain and came home knowing I could accept a position of leadership in the church. (Now, that sounds lofty. I’m just talking elder/session member. It’s not that big of a deal, but it kind of is to me.) I live in Southern California. It doesn’t rain that often. I’m ready to start this new venture. I’m ready to serve. But, more than anything else and in a new attitude for me concerning church, I’m ready to listen and learn. I feel like I have learned more in the last year than I have since I was 5 and hearing it all for the first time. Part of that is my pastor, part of that is being immersed in a culture of learning in academia, and part of that is realizing how much I don’t know and wanting to dig into it. Anyway, it’s a start.
And then there’s Kristin’s last paragraph:
So, as you prepare for Reformation Sunday and/or Halloween, may you have the courage of your convictions that Luther did, may you not be spooked, may you not be haunted by the past, may God grant you to fortitude to do what must be done.
I think it’s time to stop being haunted by the past. Time to let it go. That has become obvious to me. The past is over. I am now in a place where I am seen, where I am beginning to be known. If I was passed by and overlooked before, that’s over.
But it may also be time for me to have the courage of my convictions. Can I be real with the people from my past? How would I do that? What does it mean? I’m still not a confrontational person, but I may need to stop hedging. I just don’t know.