I went to the First Baptist Church of Umatilla today for my granddaughter’s dedication. Deciding whether to go was, for me, a bit of a moral dilemma. How so? It seems like a no-brainer. Baby dedication. Granddaughter. Go.
Well, it’s a little more complicated than that. I decided a while back that if I were attending a church service and any God-bashing were going on (yes, God-bashing happens in church services — a lot more than people realize), that I would stand up and, with as much tact as a passionate person can muster, let everyone know with what I disagreed and why.
Of course, this would likely be perceived as some kind of outrageous and disruptive breech of protocol, but unfortunately, the current structure of one-speaker-many-listeners allows no other more socially acceptable way to address the entire congregation.
Tim (my husband) said that whatever I needed to say, I could save it for a blog post, and that I shouldn’t embarrass my daughter and her husband on the day they were publicly dedicating their daughter to God. “Besides,” he said, “It’s not likely Brooks will preach a sermon about eternal torment on baby dedication day.” I agreed.
This situation got me thinking. Unless God tells me to start attending the institutional church on a regular basis, the only time one will find me there is on some special occasion. And my not wanting to make a scene on a loved one’s special occasion is not only an important consideration but, for now, a determining factor in whether I’ll just sit and listen or become an unintended participant — a public responder to the sermon.
So what now? Does this mean I should start attending church services again on “normal” Sundays? I doubt any church would put up with a regular attender that won’t remain seated and silent. Does this mean I should church-hop? Be warmly welcomed and then promptly given the left foot of fellowship over and over again?
As a believer who is in full and emphatical agreement with the apostle Paul, who encouraged interaction and discussion among believers, saying, “let the others weigh what is said,” and “test everything; hold on to what is good,” the sit-and-soak structure of the institutional church is frustrating to me. There are many places in scripture where our modern translations say someone preached, but the real meaning of the Greek indicates discussion and interaction. Weighing, testing, and deciding what is good happens when there’s more than one person talking. This important way of interacting likely contributed to the success of the pre-Constantinian/pre-Augustinian Church.
Until I get some clear direction from God on what’s next, I’ll continue doing what I’ve been doing for the past few years, that is, mostly cyber-visiting the institution, testing everything, and holding on to what is good. And then writing about it here on WhatGodDoes.
Some content from Braswell’s (pastor of FBCU) sermon was good. Some of it was surreal and will take some time to digest before reaching any conclusions. And some of it was downright ugly. You can read more about all of the above in upcoming blog posts.
It warms my heart to know that my daughter and son-in-law recognize that their daughter belongs to God and want to raise her in a way that honors God. I don’t think a ceremony that publicly recognizes their intentions makes their intentions any more legitimate than they already are, but I was happy and honored to be a witness to the ceremony.
This morning, it was wonderful to participate in worship with other believers through song. Music is a powerful instrument of the Spirit of God, helping believers to experience and express the deep things of God, where theological understanding or doctrine falls short.
It was also nice to see some old friends, as well as those who cyber-shun me but say hello and hug me in real life. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around how that works.