SSB Gathering – June 14, 2015

Spiritual Sounding Board – This is your place to gather and share in an open format.

 by Kathi

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Matthew 9: 1-13

Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and come to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!”

Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” Then he said to the paralytic, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” And the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men.

As Jesus went  on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, by sinners.”

***


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May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you: wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness: protect you from the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing: once again into our doors.

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Feel free to join the discussion.
You can share your church struggles and concerns.
Let’s also use it as a time to encourage one another spiritually.
What have you found spiritually encouraging lately?
Do you have any special Bible verses to share, any YouTube songs that you have found uplifting?

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photo credit: Kathi

23 comments on “SSB Gathering – June 14, 2015

  1. Perhaps everyone is off enjoying a summer Sunday. Or, like me, are off to work soon. Or, are studying?! Either way, enjoy your day!

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  2. I think many of us are reflecting on the goodness of the Lord even amidst adversity!! Often asking the Lord why He has me in a place where I don’t have a local church to worship Him in spirit and in truth. Praise God for internet access to those whom make their preaching/teaching available.

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  3. I seem to be experiencing church-related PTSD. It’s really, really disconcerting because nothing horribly tragic has happened to me at any of the churches I’ve attended. I can’t even read a lot of the Scripture here (OT is much easier than NT, but I don’t know why), and music? Haha, no.

    My middle daughter has been begging me to get her back to church. Oldest daughter is traumatized and needs to not go.

    So MD and I got in the car for the 30-minute drive this morning for the first time in months.

    I wasn’t excited, but I can pretty much power through anything (a lifetime of trauma and abuse will do that for a strong-willed person). But the closer we got, the more tense I felt. My daughter told me she’d be fine with me dropping her off if I needed to, but I kept resisting, determining to power through…until I noticed tears and a choking feeling.

    I had to drop her off.

    Nothing bad has happened to me at this church; well, one bad meeting with the women’s ministry gal last year, but the rest has been neutral-to-positive. They even supported the kids and me through my recent divorce, against my ex’s emotionally abusive attempts to recruit them to his side.

    And yet, I can’t go in. I can’t play churchianity/church inanity anymore. I cannot allow any self-appointed leader to assume he has any say over how I live my life and my faith, to judge the health or validity of my relationship with Jesus based on externals.

    I want to try a more local, Episcopal church with my older daughter, but MD needs the stability of the familiar. She struggles with some mental health issues, and between that, her age (mid-teens), and the upheaval she’s experienced over the last two years, I want to make sure she has some of that stability she’s craving. The specific Episcopal church I have in mind is a very liberal one. That’s good for OD and me, because we have a solid foundation and need a community of a priesthood of believers rather than a watered-down version of medieval Catholicism. But MD needs security, answers (even if she challenges them herself eventually), and the familiar.

    So I wait in a parking lot several blocks from “our” church, until my daughter is finished. And feel foolish (can’t even enter a church I’ve felt good at? Really?), fearful (I’m going to need financial help, which I can’t get if I’m not going there), and alone.

    And I didnt bring a book.

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  4. Persephone, I hear your pain. Personally, I’m so fed up and exasperated with the general church experience that I can’t get through a church service at this point even if I manage to wake up early enough to park my butt in a pew on a Sunday morning. I invariably end up dozing off, which is impolitic in most religious circles. I’d rather sleep in; Lord knows I earn it the rest of the week.

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  5. Persephone, I think it’s great that you are giving your middle daughter what she needs right now. That’s important for her. But, please give yourself permission to heal before attending another church.

    I’ve only been to one church service since we left our cult over three years ago. A family we owe money to kept inviting us to their Methodist church. Seems harmless enough, doesn’t it? Well, I sweated buckets the whole time. I ended up with a big wet spot on my rear that looked like I’d peed myself. Every time I stood for one of the songs I felt dizzy and faint. The whole experience was so traumatizing that I’ve never set foot in a church since. It wasn’t the church’s fault at all. Everybody was so nice and welcoming. I just didn’t feel safe in church yet after what we’d been through.

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  6. Well, our church experience today was 100% meh. Actually, it was discouraging. I am not feeling a connection to this church. Of course, that is why we decided to start going here. Pretty much a place to park our butts until we figure out what comes next.

    I won’t say this church has any kind of authoritarianism to it, but I do notice the preaching is becoming alarmingly New Calvinistic.

    Spousal Unit and I were discussing on the way home that we both remember a time when it seemed Christians were more free. Maybe it was an age of life thing because that was back when we were single, but I remember bunches of us all hanging out together and no one was trying to run anyone else’s life or relationship with the Lord. We just fellowshipped together. I know another friend of mine was saying the same thing not too long ago. He said he remembered when we were really expected to manage our own relationships with God, and it was because of that that we are all such strong believers now. He’s absolutely right.

    I am finding the current atmosphere in most churches suffocating.

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  7. Barbnabas, the church we’ve most recently been a part of (and where I dropped off MD) used to be like what you’re describing. I remember the lead pastor making it a point to say that their philosophy was to teach the Bible as best they could, and leave it to the individual to figure out what it means to them, with the guidance of the Spirit.

    Now? Last time I heard that guy speak, he was haranguing the congregation for not being in small groups. He’s become so much more obviously power driven that I cannot be around him at all. But he’s funny, clever, and *appears* to be self-denigrating. If my ex-h weren’t EXACTLY the same way, I don’t know that I’d have recognized it. No one else does…except my older daughter.

    The assistant pastor is actually one of the most amazing Christians I’ve ever met, equal parts honestly humble, scholarly, and empathetic. But he’s not the one who sets the tone for the congregation.

    It may be a young, aggressively hipster church in one of the most hipster cities in the world, but it’s all just more of the same old paternalistic, personality cult, authority-based evangelicalism. It’s like people aren’t smart enough to see that being covered in tattoos, having a huge beard, and wearing ironic thrift store clothing means the “obey, or else (you’re not one of us, you’re on a bad path, etc)” isn’t actually still there. Or maybe they just don’t think that’s a bad thing.

    The really upsetting thing is that this congregation wasn’t like that for the first several years. It’s really become progressively more soft-authoritarian over the last year and a half. The kids and I started attending there as an antidote for the typical suburban, increasingly neo-cal churches we’d always been in, and it was a huge breath of fresh air. It kind of felt like if this didn’t work out, what would?

    I just wish I didn’t have to go down there to get my daughter there.

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  8. *And by “hipster,” I don’t mean Mars Hill-bully boy. I call that suburban redneck. When I say Hipster, I mean artistic, sensitive (at least on the surface), questioning, skinny jean-and-stocking cap-wearing creative types.

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  9. Of course I cannot know who’s abusive, who’s not, in this situation. Maybe all parties concerned are abusive and destructive. Who knows? But I can say one thing: In every case I’ve ever seen, when a leader calls someone “divisive”, it has been the leader who has been divisive. But that is just my anecdotal experience.

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  10. It’s like people aren’t smart enough to see that being covered in tattoos, having a huge beard, and wearing ironic thrift store clothing means the “obey, or else (you’re not one of us, you’re on a bad path, etc)” isn’t actually still there. Or maybe they just don’t think that’s a bad thing.

    Yeah. It’s this corporate zeitgeist. It’s like a vapor you can’t help breathing and if you’ve never breathed any other air you wouldn’t know it isn’t supposed to smell like this.

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  11. Julie Anne – Someone around here has to study. Sorry, but I guess you’re stuck with that job! 😉 Finish strong!

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  12. Persephone – We went to a city hipster church for a while. We thought it was going to be a great, different church. We had heard the pastor speak online and my husband had read one of his books. They had great programs set up for the poor, elderly, HIV positive, community service, artists, etc. etc. etc. Something for everyone. But I comically called the pastor the “guy who appears out of no where.” We would be sitting there waiting for him to come out and I swear that he would just appear. And then he would disappear as quickly as he had appeared after his sermon never to be seen again.

    We learned that this church, that appeared to have great programs serving people on the margins as well as those in the church, was just like all of the suburban churches that we had been attending. We never felt welcomed there. It was all about getting involved in small groups. Because it was so far from our home we never were able to really get too involved. That I fully acknowledge.

    I haven’t been able to step in to a church for over 5 years now without evaluating everything. I don’t know if I’ll be able to step back in without a critical mind ever again.

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  13. I thought I would return to my Catholic church this weekend. I went to First Friday confession readying myself. Couldn’t do it…don’t want to do it. I can no longer endure the added rules and regulations man has added to the simple gospel. I can’t now or ever measure up. I too have thought of attending a more liberal Episcopal church but I don’t know. Anyway, the hubs and I went to see Jurassic World instead.

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  14. tdwunder – I would be really careful about attending a liberal Episcopal church. I know from experience and further research that you may find yourself in a battle for the Truth of Scripture which is very exhausting. I’ve been spiritually abused and labeled ‘legalistic’ because of this. I’ve heard that the Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod) “can” be better … it really comes down to the leadership. A CRY FOR JUSTICE blog has received positive reports about the Missouri Synod having a positive policy concerning domestic abuse.
    Praying for all of us as we desire to worship with others of “like mind”.

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  15. tdwunder – You talked about going back to Catholic Church. When I picked the Cat Stevens’ song, my husband said, “I remember singing that in Catholic church.” Even Julie Anne remembers it. Me? I went to Catholic mass every school day from 4th-8th grade and I don’t remember that song at all. I always thought it was a song played on the radio.

    I have often thought about going back to Catholic Church, especially with some of the things that this new pope is saying and doing. But, just like you, I can’t get past the rules and regulations. I do appreciate the tradition of mass, though, even if I don’t agree with everything done in it.

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  16. I’d love to try going to a Catholic mass. The beauty, the pageantry, the color and intricacy; that’s the kind of thing that makes me feel close to God. Unfortunately, the only traditional-style Catholic churches in our area are downtown, in the most painful part of a huge, over-crowded city. So I’ll just wait and hope I heal from my PTSD enough to try the episcopal church someday.

    I am, by the way, thoroughly disgusted with ‘our’ church. They don’t even realize what’s happening to them, and they wouldn’t care if they did. Hipsters are some of the most self-absorbed people on the planet.

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  17. Witch Hazel- I didn’t know much about the Catholic church when I left my old church, other than how much my X pastor railed against it.

    I attended Mass 7 or 8 years after leaving cult, & though, I don’t now attend or hide in her pews anymore, I loved going to Mass there & was blown away by the homily’s.

    I cried so many tears in her pews, and no one bugged me. I also went there when it was empty/no service/Mass & found peace & quiet in her pews.

    I too loved the beauty, the choir, majesty, and thankfully the Priests were humble…

    All that said to say, I no longer need a place called church to connect with our Lord, I know it might sound lame, but, I connect with you & others here, you are my body of Christ for now.

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  18. My grandmother passed this last winter and she had a mass. I was amazed at how much I remembered, and some things that I had forgotten.

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  19. Oh, Kathi, I remember playing “Morning Has Broken” with Sister Mary in 8th grade for guitar mass! Oh, the memories. . . .

    Like everyone else here, I am struggling with letting go of the rules. “Let It Go” has become my new anthem!

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