Lent Week 4
A year ago on a Sunday afternoon, I tried out a new church. Not necessarily because I was discontent with the one I was already attending, but because I was just looking for something more I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I wanted to possibly meet some new people that weren’t the same five people I talked to every week at my own church.
However, I am pretty cynical about churches. This church was considered the “cool” church in town where all the 20-somethings go. They had an official greeting team, because you know, saying hello to someone who is assigned to stand by the door and shake my hand feels so authentic and welcoming. They had a coffee bar and a welcome center where I could get a free mug and coffee for being a first time visitor.
When I walked into the sanctuary (which rather resembles an underground bomb shelter), there was a count-down clock on the screen and some music with a nondescript techno beat. I tried to sit in a corner where no one would notice me, and a guitar player wearing suspenders got on stage. The room started to fill up with plaid button-up shirts and thick rimmed glasses and knit beanie hats, stylish couples, and girls who look much better in skinny jeans than I do. I started to get a major “too cool for you” vibe, and moved over a few more seats, attempting to go unnoticed.
The band starts playing, and I see all these people enthusiastically clapping and lifting their hands and singing along to songs that I don’t know, and I just feel kind of dead inside. I stand with my hands to my side, trying to sing along, and trying to feel something.
But 40 minutes later, I was trying to hide the tears in my eyes, because I heard exactly what I needed to hear. The message was on finances and scarcity, which had been a huge struggle for me that week. I felt like I would never have enough money to feel secure, and that all the decent men in the world were taken or interested in other women or seriously weird, and that there would never be enough for me.
The pastor asked us to take out our wallet, hand it to the person next to us, and then tell them how that felt. Suddenly, I looked around me, and I wanted to get to know these people I was so quick to judge half an hour ago. I wanted to share my story with them, and hear about their lives. I’ve never been great a making small talk, but somehow, in the midst of my social awkwardness and cynicism and inability to feel any affection for an invisible deity, something broke through to me.
Even now, I’m trying to remember that no amount of cynicism or disappointment or walls that we put up can truly separate us from the love of Christ.
I remembered after I wrote this that one of this Friday’s lectionary readings was from Romans chapter 8. Funny how that works out.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.—Romans 8:38-39 ESV
Have you ever experienced something like this? How has God spoken to you despite your cynicism or unbelief?