Sunday, March 15, 2009

Niceness

There was almost a row in our church today. Our minister was talking about Jesus running riot in the temple. He talked about anger and rage and how they can create the energy for change. Then he made a few political comments. One of the women I am friendly with took exception to something he said and stood up and corrected him in public. I felt quite uneasy, as I like that woman but I thought she was wrong. I also thought she was brave. The whole episode worried me.

Later, though, I thought maybe the confrontation and the passion of the exchange was good. Because, when I was growing up in a church, there was a lot of emphasis on being "nice". Being good. Not swearing or drinking or having sex. Not looking as if you might ever swear or drink or have sex. We were obedient. We thought challenging the pastor was like challenging God. People cared about each other, but everyone was very polite. They ate a lot of quiche and made small talk.

The niceness factor was actually one of the things that made it hard for me to feel like I could belong to a church again. Somehow, it made it seem like those people lived on a different planet to me. Their planet was nice all the time and so were the people. It was hard to connect with from my own messy, emotional, semi-pissed off planet.

Sometimes I wonder where that stuff comes from. Jesus, after all, regularly got angry. He confronted people. He chucked furniture. He never hesitated to speak out against hypocrisy and smugness. He wasted very little energy on trying to please people.

I quite liked the prayer on the front of the church leaflet today:

Jesus, who wept at the death of a friend and overturned tables in anger at wrong, let us not be frightened by the depth of passion. Rather, let us learn the love and anger and wild expanses of soul within us that are true expressions of your grace and wisdom.

And assure us again that, in becoming more like you, we come closer to our true selves, made in the image of outpouring Love, born of the free eternal wind.

To this prayer, I can say truly say amen.

3 Comments:

Blogger Sailor said...

That's an interesting point, I hadn't thought about this before- at least, not in the way of standing up and "correcting" a pastor in the middle of a service!

I like the prayer, too- a reminder that Jesus was as human as the rest of us, is also a reminder that we can rejoice in our own humanity, with all our faults.

9:58 AM  
Blogger FTN said...

amen to all of that! What a great post. Curious what the specific comments were that got the woman so upset, and what she said.

9:01 PM  
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6:01 PM  

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