Take Me To Church

It may or may not surprise you, but this pastor's wife did not worship at church last Sunday morning. I think I literally heard 2 words: "The Cross..." and could not get my voice to sing a single word. My throat was too tight with tears.

But I did have church.

At home. In my bathtub. With the blood of Christ, a full worship band (on Pandora), bath salts named "Heaven," and teaching from Rachel Held Evans newest book, Searching For SundayAnd this was exactly what I needed. Today. 

Let's back up to what was essentially an abysmal Easter morning. Scott had to leave at 6:30 am because we're a vagrant church in the process of changing buildings, and things didn't go as planned, so we ended up with no building to worship in on Easter Sunday, and ended up having our Easter service in a park.

To quickly sum up, I didn't help my husband on one of his biggest work days of the year, I yelled at my kids, I didn't get to wash -much less curl- my hair, we were late because I shaved my legs, I was given the stinkeye and a reprimand at church when I tried to walk quietly to the back during prayer (which I was actually taught to do - walk while eyes are closed, but is, apparently, a whole thing), was called out for not singing during worship (whispered out? I don't know.), and I forgot extra clothes for my son being baptized. I was a mess before the second song finished. 

I stood separate from the service, thankful that my freckled skin gave me an excuse to move to the shade. I thought about how the church is where I feel most judged. How I put on my fake face at church more than anywhere else. How I'm more honest with 7th graders than I am with the people that I call my "church family." How I grew up living in a fishbowl, and somehow willingly jumped into another one. How church really stresses me out - getting kids ready, looking decent, saying the right things. Keeping the kids from running rampant through the building, answering questions I'd rather not, smiling and nodding. I wonder what people think of me, and if I'm honest, it's because I'm judging too. Wondering why someone lets their kid do something, or why someone thought that outfit was a flattering choice. Most of the rest of the time my motto is "to each her own" and "whatever works for you!"and I try to rein it in, but I feel so open and vulnerable, and (again with the honesty) wounded, by the church in general that I default to that nearly every time.  I was convicted that I need to "judge not, lest ye be judged."

That's my boy, getting baptized in full Easter attire. 

I made it through the service, then did the whole family dinner thing, the egg hunt thing, the clean-up thing, the pack-up the kids thing, the late Easter basket thing (because dad left crazy early), the promising to play with outside toys tomorrow thing, and the bedtime thing. 

Then, I went to church. 

As I read Rachel's section on Communion, I dissolved into tears. She was describing an experience giving communion to each and every person at a youth retreat - nerdy, cool, athletic, needy, white, black, chaperone, student. God welcomes us all to the table. She said, "This is Christ's body, broken for you" to each and every one, over 300 times. We are all welcome at God's table, as we are. No need for new dresses and shiny new shoes. No need for clean hair or shaved legs. No need to fix all your doubts and insecurities first. Just come to the table. "Communion has a way of flattening things out like that, a way of entangling our roots and joining our hands." - Rachel Held Evans

We need the table. We need the church. Rachel quoted Norah Gallagher, "On those days when I have thought of giving up on church entirely, I have tried to figure out what to do about Communion." We need the experience of family around the table. I have always felt that my favorite time with my kids is dinnertime. I've never been able to pin down the reason, but it has something to do with intentionally looking at each other, sharing the same experience, and stopping everything else that swirls around us in our busy days. Rachel (she responded to a comment of mine on Facebook, so I'm taking liberties and saying we're on a first-name basis) discusses how communion doesn't have to be the wafer and grape juice, but can be the casseroles and desserts we bring to families, or the spaghetti dinner that lasts well into the night, discussing God, life, parenting, school, work, and all the myriad other things affecting our lives. 

I discussed with Scott right away about how to bring more Communion into our lives. I feel like I'll be able to open up more in my own home, over pasta, brownies, and a bottle of wine. Perhaps that vulnerability (will people notice the stains on the walls? the broken couch?) will push me to remember the way I really feel - to each their own. That experiment will be underway soon. How do you have Communion?  

Also, a full review of Searching For Sunday will be on the blog next week! Look for it! If you already want it, you can preorder and get free gifts! See www.SearchingForSunday.com for more details. 


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