Unlike people who leave the church in a blaze of emotion and acrimony, I wandered away from my church merely unhappy with the theology and teachings, not because the people there made me leave. This meant that most of them don’t know why I stopped going (and most haven’t tried to reach out, either). But I missed them nonetheless. So I went back for a visit tonight. Evening services are always smaller and simpler. All the singing is done at the start, communion isn’t done every week and there is dinner afterward.
First thing I noticed was a few looks of surprise and welcome as I snuck in late to a seat at the back. The singing wasn’t done, so I endured those. Then a communal prayer. Then communion. Then the message. The message was called The Thrill Of Hope and the speaker chose two verses* out of Galatians** to remind us that we are sinners and God is offering us adoption out of that. I stopped taking notes pretty quickly. There’s no point snarking at the preacher in my notes.
However, I happened to pick the evening where one of the very few progressive attendees was attending tonight – and by that I mean someone with progressive Christian tendancies, as opposed to the more conventional evangelism normally espoused by this church’s members. He goes much less regularly now since he started up a singing school and got signed to a record label. So someone in the spiritual realm was smiling on us!
We had a lengthy conversation, albeit touching lightly on a lot of topics and he now has a better idea through what realms my spiritual journey is taking me. I mentioned I’m going to a full moon circle. We talked about popular culture we both like. He said he’d taken a day off each week for songwriting. We talked about The Naked Pastor and he observed that Hayward’s cartoons are showing a stylistic or thematic shift***. And we re-promised we would find some time to have a much longer chin-wag sometime!
I went with a bit of trepidation, I’ll be honest. But it turned out that I needn’t have worried. Most people in that church don’t seem to know how to talk to people like me. They make small talk or ask broad questions that I’m terrible at answering. I only got point-blank questions about my absence from the autistic guy who wouldn’t understand nor appreciate the answers anyway. (I told him he was going to have to be happy with non-answers. He took a little convincing.)
But I left with some happiness. I’d renewed a friendship and that’s all I really went to do.
* which meant he threw away their context
** the apostle Paul, whom I have an issue with – but Galatians was an early letter, after all
*** apparently they are much less anger now.