Kicking and Screaming

This entry was posted by on Saturday, 12 January, 2008 at

That’s right kids, FOUR posts this week. As many as all of Sept-Dec combined.

Earlier this week, a certain individual gave his “letter of resignation,” if you will, to my church group. People seem to have gotten worked up about it. Me? I was trying to take advantage of the holiday break to quietly slip away.
“So you’re quitting?”
“Not really… I’m just not gonna go.”

I have been part of this group for over four years. I have seen a near 100% turn over in membership at least twice. (That is to say, everyone who was there when I started is gone, everyone who came later who would remember those people is also gone, and there’s only a couple of people left who remember THEM.) Whatever the goals of this ministry might have been, I’ve always thought that, as far as creating lasting relationships, it has been an almost complete and spectacular failure.

Now suddenly, I don’t bother showing up for a couple of meetings and I’ve been getting nonstop voice-mails and text messages. And it’s obvious that people have been talking to each other in between pestering him and me. Did someone throw a grenade in here? What are you people so worked up about? Part of me wants to think that there’s a sense that timoth IS 20Somethings, just like no matter how many other dudes come and go, if Robert Smith leaves it ain’t The Cure. But… ummmmmm, no.

More likely, I think my friend and I just caught a little Three Stooges Syndrome on our way out the door.

That’s not even what I really wanted to talk about. I went to a new church last Sunday. That turned out to be a mistake, but at least it was one of those learning mistakes. I felt very much like I was crashing a party. In a sense, I literally was, because the church happened to be celebrating its first birthday that night and they had pizza and cake and stuff, but that’s not what I meant. I knew a few people there, and they definitely seemed to have more of a “What are YOU doing here” than a “Hey, nice to see you” attitude. I had actually tried to go somewhat incognito specifically to avoid that, but that plan failed in about the first 15 seconds when I encountered someone I knew in the parking lot. Not that it matters, there weren’t nearly enough people in that room to hide in anyway. I had grown accustomed to significantly larger congregations.

So what was I doing there? I hadn’t been to a church service in almost two months, I told people, as if that was an answer. In retrospect, that only compounds the question. I had stopped going to my regular church when I got a job that included working on Sunday mornings. But even though I wasn’t working for half of December, I still didn’t go. (Well, I was technically in the church building one Sunday morning, but I spent the whole time flipping pancakes. And I specifically went there just to flip pancakes.) The last two Sundays, I just didn’t bother. Sure, I had family in town, but that’s never stopped me… even in foreign countries.

So why this church, and why now? Well, I had thought about going there for a some time, because it met on Sunday evenings which worked with my schedule, and because several people had left my church to go there, and I wanted to see what the big deal was. Also, I had heard that number of people from work go there. One time, I was standing right there at a party when someone told my coworker that he was the only employee who had never been. (Of course, I happened to be with someone else who got off the phone with this same person and said to me, “…And she says ‘hi’ to you.” And I countered, with confidence, “No she didn’t.” So that’s a separate issue entirely.) So anyway, it seemed like the thing to do.

But why this particular Sunday? After two months? Partly, it was to in some way honor my friend Grant. An awful lot of people can talk the talk, but who can say what’s in their heart? He was one of a very few people that I know had a genuine conversion experience, and who truly loved the Lord. I know more now than I did then: He went to a bar to go pick up someone who had gotten into some trouble. There was a fight, and someone kicked him in the head. This was a guy who literally “lay down his life for his friends” in a way that most of us will probably never be asked to. I could not find the words to say that to anyone who asked on Sunday.

On the other side of the coin, even before I heard about that, part of me had been wanting to go already, just to say good bye…

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