As I wait for the big meeting of our congregation tonight, I've been sorting through some of the posts to this blog. From time to time I respond to them, but it is difficult. First, some of the posts are lengthy, contentious, and even confusing. Second, there are a lot of them and I still have a sermon to write for Sunday. I'll leave it to those of you who are already in dialogue.
One thing I notice, though, is that they reflect exactly what's being debated in the PCUSA today. There are two distinct sides on the biblical/sexuality issue, with a muddled middle that wishes out loud that people would be nicer to each other (actually, some in the middle seem offended that anyone should have a strong opinion).
I don't think that this will ever change. There may have been a time when the two "sides" in the PCUSA still truly reflected being in one house. That's certainly no longer the case. The PCUSA is a divided house, and the middle will have to decide which one gets the keys to the front door. If this continues to go on, people like me, and congregations like ours, will be exhausted by the process and drop out to go somewhere else where there is theological unity, so that all our energy can go into ministry.
Don't get me wrong--we didn't leave the PCUSA just for some relief. I truly believe that the PCUSA stepped squarely into one camp last June. I think it will take some time to get it, but many on the traditional side will see that the battle for the heart of the church has been lost.
One of our cats recently died (how's that for a smooth transition?). The point is, it took her weeks to die. We checked in with our vet, and he told us how to keep her comfortable until the end. Weeks before, we recognized the irreversible symptoms. I honestly thought she'd have been gone in hours, she was so frail, but she lived for three weeks.
She responded to our touch. She accepted water and liquid food through a dropper. She even rallied a couple of times, although each rallied condition was successively worse. Finally, one day last week, I went in to where we kept her cozy and warm, reached down, and petted her. She lifted her head a little bit, purred loudly, then deeply sighed and was gone.
Is this what is happening to mainline churches today? They are loved and cared for. People spoon feed them nourishment and go through the motions as if things really weren't so bad. But, without a miracle, the process is headed in only one way.
Try not to make too much of my analogy. I know it's full of holes, and I won't take the time to respond to those pointing them out. It just seems to me that the story fits, sort of.
Keep praying--keep the faith,