Monday, October 20, 2014

a desperate whisper into a raging storm

~For my church family in South Dakota~

Everything has fallen apart, at least for those dearest to me.  I watch from afar as that which is most dear to my memories of my childhood crumbles into so many pieces.  I haven't lived it, and so I find myself stricken with a painful neutrality, a neutrality that demands my sorrow at the decisions made by each of those living the reality.  I will be going home in December to a world I won't recognize.

We were so strong, why would we let it fall apart?  Why would our issues with one man tear an entire assembly in two?  Why would he allow it?  Why would we allow it?  What does all of it mean, anyway?  Does one mistake, one sin, disqualify my entire youth?  Is an entire lifetime of biblical and spiritual training now meaningless?  Were our shortcomings truly enough to result in this chaos?  Were we following God at all?

As all falls away, I am left with an unshakable confidence.  Although there are no answers about the frailty of my childhood church family, although the institution is rent asunder, although it seems hopeless, still there is God.

Follow Him, my sisters and brothers.  Remember that your identity is found, not in an institution that seemed unshakable, but in an unshakable God.  Your church is not your foundation, and to the degree to which it was mine, God forgive me.  God forgive our pride and our superiority complex.  God forgive our hoard mentality, our "with us or against us" mindset.

We weren't Right.  We weren't the only Good ones, the only True ones.  We weren't good or true at all.  We didn't have it all figured out, our piety was so meaningless.  All of our service, all of our beautiful singing, all of our dependable membership, all of our tradition in an age of dying traditions, all of it was meaningless.  It has fallen into chaos in an instant.  With a terrifying power, one domino fells them all.

And now, for so many Dear Ones, it is gone.  In the void of institution, there is only wilderness wanderings, only painful exiles, only wondering where God has gone.

He's among you.  Don't forget it, please don't forget it.  Pursue Him and He will be found.  Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you.  Don't ever forget those things you learned in the sunny days of unshakable faith in God and one another; never forget that God is merciful, that God has not abandoned you.

And don't forget each other.  Don't forget that this is so complex, and that everyone experiences life from a different perspective.  Don't forget that sanctification is always a process, that just as you have not arrived, neither have those whom you always thought infallible.  Please don't allow hate and bitterness in.  Please don't divide into factions.  You can choose your own path, and have great reasons for it, but please don't hate those who cannot travel your path, please don't hate each other.  As much as my voice is a whisper into a raging storm, I beg you to sacrifice everything for unity, beloved.  Not necessarily unity in the choices you make, but unity in spirit.  Never forsake meeting together, never forsake praying for one another.  Love one another.  In the painful messiness of choosing to pursue relationships at all costs with those who have chosen another way, you will find restoration.

And when all falls apart, when there is nothing left, remember this: In death, we find resurrection.  Above all, don't forget this.

He's making all things new, brothers and sisters.  Don't despair.