It is the new year. What do I want in the new year? How was the old year?
I’m working on my sermon for a week from now on Jesus’ Baptism. Last night, I dreamed that I was asked to preach at a church of Christ and Catholic church on the same Sunday, and I didn’t want to do it on the same day because I like attending one (relaxing) and preaching at another (stress).
At church today, church of Christ, I felt distant. Awkward. I don’t know why. Probably because it’s been two weeks since I’ve attended. I chatted a little after services, and that made me feel better. I was invited to go out to eat. I said no. I already had plans to go grocery shopping. This is my usual excuse, since I walk two miles to church, then another to the farmer’s market, then two back home. This makes for an exhausting Sunday. But maybe I’ll go out with them next week?
All that to say, I was so hungry that I immediately regretted saying “No” to the social offer. I knew I needed some social time. I just didn’t want to spend money or eat pizza. Lame-o. And even in my awkwardness this morning at church of Christ, I’m also skipping Mass today because I have work to do! In all likelihood, I’ll be at Mass bright and early tomorrow morning anyway.
So here I sit, feeling lame towards the Church of Christ, and absent at Catholic Mass. One day I’m thinking “No” to the Catholic church and considering quitting RCIA, and the next day I’m back again ready to confirm. And I still am not sure why.
The sermon at Brookline today was bold. Also, a little weird, I’m not quite sure what he was going for. It was part Paul defensive, part “God thinks this” [well, Paul says God thinks this], and part anti Christ. Anti Christ meaning that he wanted to emphasize God and what God does through Christ. I can appreciate that, but it was still a little strange to me. I think he was reacting to people’s emphasis on Christ’s humanity and less on being God. He really needed to tow the line though, because at one point it almost sounded like Christ was less than God (which is heresy). I don’t think he meant that, but he never once mentioned the incarnation (Christ is God), or that usually when people talk about Christ it is synonymous with God.
I’m sorry to say, I don’t think people got what he was going for because it was overshadowed by sort of human Jesus bashing. I was just glad someone commented by saying, “As soon as someone says they know what God thinks, they’re wrong.” As in, “Dude, leave a little room for mystery.” Because the boldest thing he went for was saying what God thinks, but we do this all the time in one form or another.
While some of the meat was a little hazy (it is the toughest part of the sermon to write!), his main point was to remember what God is doing/does.
I don’t even know how he got through that sermon without mentioning the incarnation or the Trinity! Chances are, just like me, there were about 1000 things in his head and he couldn’t mention them all.
In the meantime, I’m kind of at a loss about how to structure my sermon. I think I know what I want to say in the beginning, and I think I know what my final point is, but how I get there? I don’t know.
I keep going back and forth about becoming Catholic… If ever in the future, there is an audience for my writing, I imagine they will be thinking, “Poop or get off the pot!” For whichever way their sentiments lie.
I’ve gone years with all my Catholic buddies joking about me becoming Catholic. Then when I’m nearing taking the plunge, everyone is a little nervous. When I ask Steve about it, what he usually tells me is along the lines of, “I’ve always felt like you were a part of it.” And that is that. Whether I’m confirmed or not, that is how he feels, and he is happy with that.
And I know that getting confirmed is hardly the end. I’m not going to have any less existential crises, but then again, maybe I will have less. Because at that point, I don’t have to worry. In a sense, I would be choosing the Catholic church as my “priority church.” Not that they would like win out in an argument every time, but they would be my main community, and main place I would choose to serve.
I searched in Google for “churches that are growing and shrinking” hoping to find something. It didn’t really work. I was looking for basically what churches are growing and which are shrinking, but I don’t think it really matters. I found this instead:http://www.gallup.com/poll/125999/mississippians-go-church-most-vermonters-least.aspx.
It’s the percentage of people by state that attend church. What’s more interesting is that only a little less than half of Americans attend church. This bodes well to a theory that spirituality is like a normal curve, and maybe half of those people are the church attendees and half not, and it fluctuates. I wonder what the other half of people do on Sunday. I hope they do good things. Weekends are precious. Though, it is likely that many of them are working. Looking at the numbers, it looks like the Catholic church has declined since the 1950s and Protestants have just stayed the same.
I keep saying that I am leaning more towards getting confirmed than not. Today, I thought about what it might look like to apply for a non-Catholic job and actually being Catholic. I guess it’ll be similar to applying to Catholic jobs and not being Catholic.
I thought about what people might assume of me having actually chosen, in adulthood, to become Catholic. They might assume I’m just naive and brainwashed. They might assume I did it just to get married and be with my bae spiritually. They might assume I’m a glutton for punishment, or to stroke my own ego. They might assume I did it to be in line with my parents’ Catholicism. They might assume I hate the gays and want to save all the fetuses. They might assume I was just jumping on the bandwagon with Pope Francis.
Maybe not everyone will assume that. What I want is to jump this stupid 500 year old fence between Catholics and Protestants. Is there a gate somewhere that I can walk through? I think people on both sides want this. The grass is always greener effect. It takes a lot of commitment to jump fences than stay on your own safe side. You might get trapped on the other side! Or who knows what will happen? You only know that you won’t be able to control it. What is “it”? The Spirit.
I’m five days into the new year and there is so much to do. Who needs another spiritual memoir? Those people are such narcissists. Maybe I am. I mean, I’m not writing for anyone else, just myself. Free therapy. And maybe it’ll help someone else, but first and foremost, it is mine. Maybe that’ll change. Preaching is essentially the exact opposite. While I might be preaching to myself, it’s not exactly for me… or it is, it’s just not me? I don’t know.