I went to a church service today; first time in rather a while. But it was the baptism of my sister’s twins, and I was asked to attend. Not going to deny my sister that! But there were so many things that reminded me why I don’t go anymore.
I’d been to this church before. It’s the closest thing I have to a regular church mostly because I attend when family needs happen and my parents and sister both go there. But I can’t call myself a Christian anymore – I haven’t for some years. Or, at least, I can’t call myself the sort of Christian they would recognise. And I was re-discovering this all over again.
Principle amongst these were the sentiments in the songs and the vaguely liturgical congregational declaration near the end of the service. I can’t claim to “have my sins washed away” because I no longer believe in the church’s idea of sin. Likewise, I can’t say that Yahweh is my god (although Christians rarely call him that) because I connect with other deities or spirits. But the sermon this morning was in Zechariah and it was actually worth listening to.
The book of Zechariah is one of the least known and least understood books of the Christian Bible. It is a mix of prophetic works written some little time after the major return of the exiled Jews back to Jerusalem when they sought to rebuild the temple. We don’t know much about the writer, but what makes it interesting is that it comes from a time where Judaism was being formed into a recognisably monotheistic religion.
The Old Testament book of Zechariah has a somewhat special place for me. It was during a Bible study studying Zechariah that I had my first distinct message to go look outside what the church would teach. In a lot of ways, this is the opposite of what the writer was trying to do.
But I can’t go back. As much as I miss the community and all the other trappings of being in a church, I don’t believe the same way anymore. I just don’t.