Sunday, July 06, 2008

Sad by Reality - and deeply moved ...

One of the things I did while I was in Sydney was go to the church that I was part of as a teenager.  It was a church that shaped me deeply and there is no way I'd be where I am today if it wasn't for the embrace, teaching, example, passion for godliness and mission and much more which was given to me in the midst of this community of God's people.  And in so many ways this continues to be true.  Some of my closest friends are people who were part of this community and many people who are still part of this community I deeply respect.  It's lovely to be embraced in a community which you haven't been part of for 15 years.  Several of the people who were part of this community with me are now elsewhere around Australia and the world and several who are still part of this church I am in contact with in other ways.  Probably some of the key readers of this blog fit into one of those categories.  And those relationships are really important to me - but separate to going to church when I'm in Sydney (even though this time I had really important conversations with both the people of one such couple at church after the service!)  And many of the people who I have no other contact with other than Sunday at church when I visit are also important to me.  However, I think I may well have just visited this church for the last time as my standard thing to do in a visit to Sydney.  Part of it is that life has moved a long way, it's been a long time.  But most of it is the fact that I am in the process of being an ordination candidate in the Anglican Church.  You see this is a Sydney Presbyterian Church.  There are many awkward moments when I say what I do for work and it gets even more uncomfortable when I say I'm almost finished a Master of Divinity and then neither of us knows quite how to deal with the next thing - that I'm an ordination candidate for priesthood.  Several of the people who matter to me from my Sydney world also personally do not agree in theory with with women being ordained in such roles and in various ways we've needed to work out what it means to journey together in grace and a sense of unity with deep differences which involve much of what I'm embracing in life - to enable important current friendships to continue we have needed to work out what it means to live with these differences, being true to ourselves; I feel in a good place with most of these people around that.  However, the people I see after church and not at other times are plain awkward and it feels unnecessary so.  Why do I need to make them uncomfortable?  Why do I need to put something in front of myself that I don't need to?  We don't have the context, relationship or need really to discuss it properly but it doesn't seem to do anything good for anyone.  And it will just get worse as I'm ordained.  So not based on anything about the gathering itself (in fact I enjoyed much of the service last Sunday) I think I may well have just attended my last non "special event" service at the church of my teenage years.  I'm sad by the reality of that but as I wrote this became deeply moved by where the friends who have other views and I are at.  While I say sad by the reality - there's also a sense in which it's just deep freedom to be who I am and to allow them to be who they are and to know that the best way to do that is to avoid the unnecessary discomfort.  

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