Monday, November 09, 2009

soul food: finding the faith

With very little exception, Charlie and I have been going to church every weekend.

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Now, I feel it's important to note that we're still not at the point of believing everything that we read in the Bible. Nor do I think we ever will be. And the next time gay marriage turns up on the ballot, so help me, I WILL vote the exact same way. And depending upon where we live, we might stick another sign up in our yard.

But it is my belief that even if my actions are wrong (which I fully believe they are NOT), God will love me, anyway.

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So that being said, I'm really going to try and make a (better) concerted effort at writing down some of the services that we've been attending (under the Soul Food label) - because I've got a stack of around 30 sermons that I want to share and I'm starting to run out of space in my organizer.

Besides, I've found that writing down my notes from the service, really helps to make the point stick.

As I may have mentioned before, one of the things that I really appreciate about "our church" is that they will do series for a particular topic. Right now, the series is on "Dangerous Church: What Could and Should Be." The premise here, is that our church is DANGEROUS. What does that mean, you ask?

Well...

A Dangerous Church Believes:

1. Ordinary people want to find God.

2. God loves everyone and wants to be found.

The Council at Jerusalem: Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers, "Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved."

The passage goes on to say that Paul and Barnabas (not sure who he is, I'm still new to this) had a dispute with the concept that you had to be circumcised to become a Christian and went to Jerusalem to see what the apostles and elders would say about the question. When they arrived, they were welcomed and reported everything God had done, through them.

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Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, "The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses." The apostles and elders met to consider this question. After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: "Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith."
Acts 15:1-9

OK. So what this story goes to show is that the Gentiles - (who I learned aren't Jewish - see I told you I had a lot to learn) had to become Jewish BEFORE they could become Christian.

Great News! You can be a Christian!

(But, first there's going to be a little operation.)

THIS is an obstacle. You cannot get to God without going through this door.

(Ding Dong! Snip. Snip.)

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If you are laying rules and regulations on people, you are testing God.

I loved the analogy that our pastor gave of a ladder.

Imagine taking out the first five steps on a seven step ladder so that the only steps that remain are the two at the top. And let's just imagine that God is at the very top of the ladder. How are people on the ground - supposed to get to the top - if the first five steps are missing?


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The theory is that rules and regulations were put in place, by man, to keep people from growing closer to God. Because if everyone is able to climb up that ladder, than everyone gets closer to God, and well - suddenly you've got overcrowding.

Who wants to stand on a step (or go to a church) with 5,000,000,000 other people?

Definitely not me.

(No seriously. I don't like crowds.)

3. A church's #1 purpose should be to remove obstacles that keep ordinary people from God.

A church should definitely not make it difficult for ordinary people to connect with God and form a relationship.


Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord that we are saved, just as they are."
Acts 15:10-11

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It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.
Acts 15:19

The men were sent off and went down to Antioch, where they gathered the church together and delivered the letter. The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message.
Acts 15:30-31.

(Especially the MEN who heard, you don't have to that little operation to join the club. Yippee! The skin stays! HALLELUJAH!)


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4. Every follower of Jesus is on Assignment.

OK. Hold the criticism, but I - personally - have a very difficult time whenever people talk about following Jesus. While I totally agree with the principle, the words themselves always make me uncomfortable. When I lived in South Carolina, I was asked weekly, if I had been saved and accepted Jesus as my Savior. (Always dreaded that question. Always saw it coming.)

Why is it that I can talk about God all day, but I get so skittish about Jesus? Why does his name have such a fanatical stigma? It wasn't very long ago, one of my co-workers and I were talking about religion and when I asked if she was Christian, with a straight face she said, "No. I'm Catholic."


Wha?

Did I miss something in Sunday School?

(Or maybe she did??)

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Our minister said - and I fully believe - that it's because so many churches bring in weirdness that most people stay away.

Quick show of hands for anyone who has been to a church where the minister directs the congregation to turn to a passage in the Bible - and everyone, except you - seems to know exactly what to do?

Instead of feeling like you are connecting with God, you feel totally unworthy, like an outsider - looking in on people who are a deep and spiritually mature group and in order for you to belong, YOU HAVE A LOT OF CATCHING UP TO DO.


(You HEATHEN!! What are you doing here in the Holy House of God?!)

I'll raise my hand. BOTH hands in fact.


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Our minister further gave an example that when he was young, he was exploring different churches in his area. He went to one particular church where he had to write down his name in a guest book when he entered.

Much to his absolute HORROR, midway through the sermon, the minister had the guest book brought up to the pulpit and he read aloud our minister's name. He asked him to stand, tell the church what brought him there that that day, how long he had been a Christian, whether or not he tithed and his stance on sexual purity, and a host of other questions that made him feel like RUNNING out of the church as fast as he could.


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(Nothing like being put on the spot to make you never want to come back ever, ever again.)

While we're on the topic...

Although I'm a little embarrassed to admit this in front of my very large and very devout Catholic family, especially since I went to Catholic school for three years and was baptized Catholic and received my First Holy Communion, I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing whenever I go to a Mass and I can barely get by just watching the rest of the congregation.


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I'm so distracted with sitting and standing and kneeling and "Also with you(s)" that I totally lose track of what's going on. For those that don't know (and I'm sure my whole family knows by now), I got in to trouble because I received communion when I was in South Carolina last month during Uncle Bill's Mass. (Not REAL trouble, but knowledgeable others asked me WHAT WAS I DOING?)

You think I would have known better (having gone to Catholic school for three years and being baptized Catholic and receiving my First Holy Communion) but I didn't. So I did. Because the Spirit totally moved me. (In the complete wrong direction to the front of the line, apparently.)

By no means am I saying that the Catholic church is weird.


I just ... I just ... I just have no idea what I'm doing whenever I go.

Quick. Moving on.

Look! It's MIKE WAZOWSKI!!


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THE POINT IS (to #4, above): Everyone is on a mission to take the focus off of us and help others find God. While keeping in mind that every church - home - business has a culture. You need to find a church that fits YOU.

So, where is there a culture that best fits you?

It's important to keep in mind that your assignment is not to try and change the church that you attend, but rather - find a church where you best FIT.


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More than 80% of people in the United States were not in church this past weekend. Because, at least 80% of the people in this country do not believe that church can help them and it would just be a waste of time. Also, who wants to go to a church that tells you what you need to CHANGE about yourself before you can belong?

Definitely not me.

(No seriously. I sometimes don't respond well to criticism. Just ask my mother. Or husband. Or sisters.)

(It's important to point out here, that after one lap around the park, Carolyn decided that she needed her training wheels back ON.)

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A lot of churches are like a ladder that are far too good at removing the rungs that will get you to the top - and ultimately, closer to God. But, if you can find a church that makes the connections easier - people will feel like they can connect and WANT to connect and the next thing you know, they BELONG.

Does this sound like a commercial?


Well it kind of is.

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After almost five years of attending this particular church pretty religiously (pardon the pun), we still haven't joined.

HOWEVER, this church has been so amazing for us, our family, our marriage,
our little Henry who wouldn't even EXIST if not for a particular sermon, our lives in general (TRUST ME, I'd be a lot worse off if not for the church) - and we've had such an incredible time splashing around the shallow end of Christianity, we are fully anticipating that very soon, we'll be taking the plunge in to the deep end.

For us, that's very BIG news.

But much like my daughter, I'm not sure that I have the faith to just GO FOR IT, because I'm afraid I'll wobble and look silly and ultimately, crash HARD. And then, people who are so much more experienced than me, will feel compelled to tell me that I'm doing it ALL WRONG, instead of just giving me a high five and saying, "WAY TO GO!! STICK WITH IT!!"

See ... the fact is, I am getting closer and feeling a lot more comfortable.

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Because every time I go to church, I feel like I am riding on a cloud with the most awesome Superhero running beside me.

35 comments:

  1. My kids attend a summer camp that is "inter-faith" (Christian of no denomination). Well, they did attend it. My daughter is refusing to go back. Do you know why? Because when she was there this summer, the woman teaching them Bible studies told her that gays, Jews, Muslims and the like were all going to hell. *Even if they had spent their entire lives being generous and good people* simply because they had not "accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour".

    This upset my daughter greatly and when it came time to "accept God's invitation to welcome Jesus into your heart", she refused. The study leader was flabbergasted and stammered out a "why?"

    My 15 year old daughter said, "Because if all the good people I know that haven't accepted Jesus Christ are going to hell, then that's where I'll be, rather than in heaven with all the snobs."

    I was proud of her that day. Not for being rude, but for (a) standing up for what she believes in and (b) questioning faith.

    I wrote this just to tell you that I don't think you *should* follow faith blindly. I think you're doing the right thing in taking what you can out of it and enjoying it.

    This church of yours sounds wonderful and I only wish that we lived close to you so that we could attend with you.

    Good for you. Please keep up the soul food. I enjoy it immensely. Oh, and I have no idea what I'm doing in church either. LOL

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  2. Nice Jen. Okay, the "you have to have a little operation" part totally slayed me. Hysterical, but true,right? I totally agree with everything you've said. I attend church now because it really gets me off to a good start every week...not because I was raised, (or "trained" as the case may be)to go to Mass every week. That's why I stopped going in the first place. Threats and guilt have absolutely no effect on me, Wait, actually they do. I run the other way as fast as I can.

    Great post!

    XOXO AM

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  3. I gotta say I could have written this post word for word. Like you - I was raised Catholic and have no idea what I am doing in Mass. Like you - I have moved to SC and found myself being asked weekly what church I attend, am I saved, etc. Also like you - I have never had a problem talking about God, but stumbled when I got to Jesus. I am sitting here in amazement that you wrote all the words that were in my head. We moved to SC last year and my extended family attended Calvary Chapel. I was asked if I would go too. I honestly said I had no idea. Well, I went one week and then the next and the next after that. Been almost 2 years. Like you, every one seemed (to me) to know exactly where to turn to in their bible. I STILL don't know that and can't quote verses, etc. I just like going there because Pastor John goes through the bible verse by verse explaining them completely for people like me that have absolutely no clue. I am also like you in that I just don't buy it all. That sometimes gets me into trouble. I am really happy today, though, because my 5 year old Sebastian asked me to pray with him last night before he went to bed. We have a 20 year old son as well and while he believes in God - he doesn't have much a connection. This is pretty much our fault because when he was growing up WE didn't have a connection. I talk to him all the time about God and Jesus, but I really know that at this point in his life, he is going to have to find it himself. So, even if I can't speak "bible-speak", I know I am headed in the right direction when my 5 year old asks Jesus to heal his cold. Thanks for writing!

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  4. AMEN! so wonderful to read this first thing this morning. I work for a church. Have a relationship with Christ. And yet, after years of attending, I do not go to corporate worship on Sundays - something happened inside me...I don't know what.
    Some think I am awful cuz I don't. Me? I am concerned as well...but I still have that relationship and, trust me, it is awesome.
    You and yours - take your time - it will happen in His time....His time.
    IN HIS TIME,
    ~Mad(elyn) in Alabama
    www.xanga.com/madewyn

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  5. Barnabas was an early convert to Christianity - one of the first disciples who traveled with Paul on his missionary journeys. He is known as "The Encourager."

    Our kids' youth group has a "Barnabas Chair" that they've painted with all sorts of fun colors and sayings. Whoever sits in the Barnabas Chair gets to hear their peers say all sorts of nice things about them.

    Don't feel intimidated to "join" the church. It sounds like you attend a church that is full of people who accept people where they are and simply love them like Jesus does. Personally, though, I never got the whole idea of "placing membership," although our church does it too.

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  6. OK - I'd like to make an historical point, rather than a dig at you!

    Before and around 1AD (0r 1CE for me) there were Jewish communities in many parts of the Roman empire, not just in Judea. These diaspora communities were finding that Gentiles were finding Judaism attractive and wanted to follow the Mosaic teachings. The Jews allowed these people to become full members of their communities without subjecting anyone to circumcision or requiring them to follow the strict Kosher rules concerning food or ritual purity. The Jewish communities argument was that if you are born a Jew then you are required to fulfil the obligations as set out in the covenant. If you are not born Jewish but feel comfortable with the nature of the religion and decide to follow the teachings then that was great and by the way, there is no requirement for circumcision and the rest. Judaism has always had an open and respectful attitude to other religions and cultures.

    A Rabbi once explained it like this. Imagine a wheel with spokes and a hub. Each spoke is an experience that leads to the hub, which is God. Why go all the way around the outside of the wheel to get to a spoke on the opposite side of the wheel that will ultimately take you to the same place?

    What you are reading in the scriptures is actually the arguments that went on between Jews who were watching their culture being destryed and had no concept of how their religion could continue without a Temple, or all the rituals that were part of the fabric of Judaen life, and Rabbis who were arguing for the religion to be taken into the home (as it exists today). Paul just tagged onto the second party and actually from a Jewish point of view is an irrevelevance.

    Obviously, from a Christian point of view it looks very different..... but I thought you might appreciate the history lesson, in the name of a wider understanding!

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  7. Dawg gone it, you made me cry again. Love this post and also the post where you spoke about your fourth wonderful pregnancy. I am glad you have found a wonderful church.

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  8. Ellie M. in NC11/9/09, 10:10 AM

    There can be no Christianity, even shallow Christianity without Christ, without JESUS. I pray you find Him in the midst of all your good, spiritual messages. It is nothing without Jesus. A true church preaches the true Gospel, not a watered-down version where Jesus is absent in favor of a self-led, self-absorbed, self-directed lifestyle. Christians come in various forms, and believe various things politically but all Christians should be thinking and doing what they HONESTLY believe Jesus has called us to say, do, and believe. Based on the Bible - both the examples of the Old Testament and the New Testament...the words and actions of Jesus Christ himself.

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  9. Annicles: Thanks for the historical point!

    HW: Thanks for telling me who people are!

    Ellie M: The church that we attend says that it's purpose is to help people FIND and FOLLOW Jesus Christ. Believe me when I say it isn't at ALL watered down. But, they also don't bang people over the head with a Bible when they first walk in the door which is the #1 reason why they have over 5,000 people who consider this church to be home. AND, they are currently in the process of opening four new 'campuses' across the U.S.

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  10. I like the point, that when Gracie got back on the bike, she held her arm out to the right, like she was making a signal. Go right!
    I like the community of going to a church and the people that teach me so much and help me to make up my mind about what I believe. I am a "fox hole" catholic, that goes right back to the prayers when I am afraid. However, like one of your readers, do not believe in Hell. I think we all make our own right here on earth.MOM

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  11. Love this quote: " . . . we've had such an incredible time splashing around the shallow end of Christianity . . . "

    But I want to know why it was wrong for you to take communion? Does it have anything to do with being pro-choice?

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  12. I am going to tell Uncle Bernie and Aunt Ann on you.

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  13. I just want to say...
    "WAY TO GO!! STICK WITH IT!!"
    Being a Christian takes work and commitment. And I bet if you really talk to those people who always seem to know what to do when/what to say when during a service, quote scripture, are filled with the spirit...they will tell you they work at their faith every day. And it is SOOO WORTH IT! Cause like you say, every day you are running with a superhero beside you and one day...you'll be with him always.

    Really...Way to go!

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  14. Great post! I want to find a church I can feel comfortable in. Still searching...

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  15. I think this is just great. I love to hear your posts about church, partly because your struggles are similar to mine and partly because I'm so impressed that you've found a place that seems to be a good fit.

    I have not had the time or energy to find a church that would be the best fit for me and my husband, who was raised in a very different denomination than I was. However, we live in the same area where I grew up, so I/we simply go back to the church I grew up going to where my parents still go (and where we got married).

    I would love to really look around and find a church that fits us (if you have any tips, I would LOVE to hear them). But right now, it's more important that we are going (though not every week), getting the children used to going and hearing good sermons from a thoughtful priest. Some day, we'll find the right atmosphere in addition to a good message.

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  16. I read your blog often but don't comment often. Religion is something that strikes a conversation!

    I was born and raised Catholic. I didn't go to Catholic school but we didn't miss church much when we were small and I am trying to raise my children the same way.

    That being said, I have not followed all the "rules" of the Catholic church. I have been in many conversations with people who ridicule Catholics and what they believe. (most just don't understand..and that's okay...but before making judgement, I wish they would open their minds and not be so judgemental..) I digress...

    Here's the thing for ME. I have been very fortunate to have many many good Catholic priests/nuns/etc, around me. They have been very good and NON judgemental people themselves. I haven't been in church where the homily was about people being damned to hell for not following the rules of the Catholic church. In fact two of the churches that I have attended have welcomed other churches to use our facility for their own worship service in times of need.

    My take on religion: Here is a set of standards set before you for you to aspire to. Those standards do NOT include things of judgement. They do include The 10 Commandments. Other churches speckle other standards here and there. The journey of religion helps us aspire to those standards, and teaches us that we WILL fail, but God/Jesus is there to help us along the way and will love us unconditionally.

    It's very very easy for people to judge what churches want them to be or not to be and get angry and say that "churches aren't keeping up with modern society." Well, no one said you HAVE to live within the standards of one church or another. But, some of us try. And, hopefully, that alone will make this world a better place.

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  17. Love these posts Jen. I love that you can talk religion without trying to sell it to anyone else. We are in very similar boats here.

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  18. I found a church I love. I wasn't raised in church. I found that I loved church, just this past June. But I'm married to a man, a great man that doesn't believe in God. I think he has this picture in his head like you said...walking into church and getting hit in the head with a bible, and having someone tell you if you do this or that, your wrong and a bad person. That's what he sees, because it is like that in so many places.
    I quit going to church for my husband as weird as that may sound. But he will never go, and we do things as a family...maybe someday.
    I love your blog. I never comment, but I wanted to tell you that I love it, and your family is amazing, and so are you.

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  19. Jen as you know I'm glad you found a church and it serves you well. However, if you or your readers are interested in finding out answers to why "Catholics do that" and therefore better understand the faith of your large and devout Catholic family - visit these websites:

    www.catholic.com
    www.ewtn.com/vexperts/conference.htm

    or

    www.amerciancatholic.org

    Hope it helps. Marg.

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  20. I am not one to judge people, but the gay issue really makes my blood boil. Do you know what happened in the Old Testament? Like it or not... it is wrong according to the Bible. It seems like people only believe the parts of the Bible they want to believe.

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  21. Tell me in your opinion, what is one supposed to do who, all her life believed, had no doubts and just took what the Bible as their guide for life. What is this person supposed to do when she begins to realize that none of it may be true and that religion is made up by humans for humans. Sure it helps us in our times of need, but I'm beginning to think God is NOT there and he does not answer our prayers. There is too much hurt in the world, too much hurt for a God who is supposed to LOVE us like we love our own children. We would NEVER let our children hurt like that if we had the power to stop it and God is supposed to. I am so confused and angry about it at times it's not funny.

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  22. Anonymous 6:15

    The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry and witch craft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.
    Galatians 5: 19-21.

    If we are going to label homosexuality under "sexual immorality" then we must also cast judgment on those of us who ever engage in hatred, fits of rage, selfishness and envy.

    It seems many of us all have a "pet sin" that we love to hate, but we forget that most of us are guilty of one sin or another every waking moment.

    If my neighbor is cheating on her husband, is she a worse sinner than I when I envy my sister's new home? Selfishly, I'd like to think so, but I believe the Bible says we are the same.

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  23. theagnosticswife: My opinion is that I don't know why there is so much hurt in the world and sometimes I, too, have doubts as to whether or not "God" exists. As I've said on more than one occasion, I don't believe everything that I read in the Bible - because although I believe it is an excellent guide book, I do not take it (all) as God's absolute word.

    For as many times as I see glimpses that God doesn't exist, I see just as many - plus one - that He does. And whenever I have those nagging doubts, I fall back on Albert Einstein's words:

    "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though NOTHING is a miracle. The other is as though EVERYTHING is a miracle."

    Although I may not understand everything (or believe everything that I read), my belief is that God is GOOD and when I believe in that, I believe that I have a purpose in my life to be the best person that I can be.

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  24. I struggle with the idea of "finding a church that fits you." Yes, I believe that you must find a church in which you feel fed spiritually, but a church should be teaching the truth of the Holy Bible and the truth of Jesus Christ as the Son of God.

    There is no picking and choosing what parts of the Bible to believe in because they work well for your family. That would be like people picking out which parts of history they believe in because it's just what they want to believe. The Bible is a historical account of what has come to pass.

    The truth is, Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and no man comes to the Father but by Him. It is through faith that one believes.

    Although I am a Christian, I would never beat someone over the head to make them believe as I believe.(Even though sometimes I would love to do this to my Jewish husband!)

    I try,(and fail often), to live a life so that others can see joy in me. It is through this example that others are won to Christ. Bible thumping is a TOTAL turn-off, and I understand that!

    With that...I'll sign off!

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  25. Anon 9:43:

    UGHHH.... I really don't want to be characterized as "pro-choice" because I really don't think that I am. I definitely do not belong to the camp that a woman can do whatever she wants with her body because it is HER choice. I've already gone in to this - at great length - and I don't want to do it again here, because it's too draining. Suffice to say - at least to me, this is NOT a black or white issue.

    But your question was why was it wrong for me to receive communion at the Catholic church?

    Because I am not a practicing Catholic. And Catholics believe that communion is LITERALLY the body of Christ. If you are not a practicing Catholic, you SHOULD NOT receive communion. Period.

    In contrast, at our church, communion is offered as a SYMBOL of Christ. Everyone in the congregation who feels moved by the Spirit is invited to accept communion in remembrance and to accept God in to themselves.

    It's a totally different philosophy, and yet - it makes me laugh because ultimately? It's all about Christianity. Still, I was wrong and shouldn't have done it. Since my mother was sitting next to me, I blame her that she didn't stop me before I walked up to the altar....!

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  26. It just cracks me up how much Carolyn and Sarah are alike. Gregory and Amanda, the waifs, got on the bike and floated off. Sarah had a much harder time finding her balance. It took her almost six months longer to get it.

    Carolyn is SO TALL. Sarah is so tall. 98th percentile. I've told you before, STOP COPYING ME.

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  27. I've been longing for a discussion forum lately and this is about as close as I can get. Would love to be in a room with you all. I was raised catholic (as was my husband). I never questioned things all that much until he experienced severe depression and sought counseling. Part of his issue at that time was fear of dying. His counselor told him he must figure out what death meeans to him. So he started asking others, including me. It was like that one question sort of called into question everything I thought I believed in, and I can't explain it. Such a simple question. So he has concluded he's an agnostic, and unfortunately, I feel more and more like one. Jen, I want to thank you for this post. I can so relate to the the God vs. Jesus thing...I have noticed the same in myself and felt alone in that. We stopped going to church when the pastor felt it necessary to put down Mormons and hold Satan accountable for nearly everything it seemed. I had a real dislike for the parishoners use of the word "unchurched" as in "people who are unchurched." Well I'm sure I was one of those people as prior to that we had not been to one in a few years. That term bothers me to no end and makes me want to run for the exit. Barring some unforseen revelation, my husband will not return to a church (wait-he believes in God, but not Jesus-maybe that's not agnostic) and I doubt that I will either partly because I will not go without him. It saddens me to think that our kids will not be raised in a church, but frankly I don't feel I belong. One last point, if you've made it this far. Some people, our former pastor included, sometimes say that you either believe all of the bible or you believe Jesus is a liar. I don't see how that has to be the case. What about the possiblity that humans, somewhere along the lines, got it wrong? That some of it is true. I personally believe some people like the comfort of believing "it's all true." Leaves much less to the imagination, less doubt. But to each his own...there just doesn't seem to be much room for independent thinking in church. I am glad you found one you are so comfortable with.

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  28. Anon @ 8:56: I totally made it through your entire comment and really appreciate your thoughts.

    Regarding your opinion that there just doesn't seem to be much room for independent thinking in church, I agree. Unless, of course, it's a Unitarian church which I think might be a GREAT choice for you and your husband, right now. (I love, love the Unitarians.)

    All in all, we've gained so much from our church and although I may not agree with EVERYTHING, I agree with the BULK of it and to me, at this point in my life, that's enough.

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  29. Everything I've always been taught in Catholic schools was that once the Catholic church lays claim to you through baptism, they ALWAYS consider you one of them. So if you've had the sacrament of First Communion, you should always be welcome to take communion at church.

    Non-Catholics are not supposed to take communion, but most priests won't turn them away. My non-Catholic mother often takes communion when she goes to a Catholic church for a special occassion, even though she sees the host as representative as Jesus' body. It's still a meaningful act to her, even if it doesn't mean exactly what the Catholic Church believes it means.

    And in my not-really-Catholic-but-supposed-to-be mind, that personal relationship with God and doing things that are meaningful to that relationship is far more important than centuries-old rituals.

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  30. About not receiving communion in the Catholic Church if you don't practice....I am not supposed to receive either. I married a man who has been married before (in the Catholic Church) and the marriage was not annulled. We spoke to our priest before we got married and he told us that as a matter of practice, we were not "supposed" to receive Communion. He ALSO said, that hopefully that will change someday, but as of right now...

    But, I take Communion every Sunday. In the end, that is between me and God. No one in my church judges me...not even the priest. I think he "gets" it.

    I sort of feel at times that it is as simple as this. We NEED to believe in something. We, as humans, NEED a fundamental belief that there is something bigger than ourselves. There is no church that is perfect, and I don't believe that God ever intended for us to be perfect. That is where Jesus comes in. Of course we will have our doubts, but God loves us anyway. (doubting Thomas)

    We NEED to believe. As the saying goes...You've got to stand for something or you'll fall for anything.....

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  31. No wonder Charlie puts up with you..you're flippin' funny. I really need to not be anon. any more; I want to be your friend. You had me at the one about flushing the toilet.

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  32. 80%? Where did you get that? Being a statistics person, that intrigued me so I did a little leg work. Though there are many polls, none that I found were anywhere near that statistic. Here's one of the worst, perhaps it due to it's leftish side, but again, no where near 80%: http://abcnews.go.com/sections/us/DailyNews/church_poll020301.html

    Interesting statistics though!

    Michelle

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  33. "(It's important to point out here, that after one lap around the park, Carolyn decided that she needed her training wheels back ON.)"

    Why dontcha try just moovin them up a bit, but leavin them on? They will still catch her if she goes too far over, but will help her learn to balance.

    Then you can try takin ONE off, and leavin the other on. I have seen it work on kid's bikes around the neighborhood here.

    ~Helpful ~Cindy! :)
    ..

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  34. Michelle - the 80% statistic was quoted in church. I haven't looked it up to confirm - but when I take a random sampling of 10 people that I know, I'm fairly certain only 2 of them went to church this weekend. So, that number doesn't seem too far off to me.

    I'm going to check out the link that you sent...

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  35. Okay, I am trying to catch up ~ been out of the loop for a couple of weeks even on my own blog.

    But I have to stop here.

    Couple of Points:

    1) At my father's funeral ~ No one cared you went to communion ~ that is between you and God.

    2.) Your Catholic friend who is not a Christen but Catholic...She is missing something BIG time.

    3.) Jesus is not and has never been lost.

    4.) God does love everyone.

    5.) If I were Jewish I think I would be offended.

    6.) Church IS for sinners! No one knows what they are doing. Most poeple just go and try and try again...

    7.) Understanding your faith makes you realize "You" ((not you personally...but the person in general)) has a lot of work to do.

    Interpreting the Bible???....Stick to fund raising and raising kids...Your better at that.

    I love you Jen!!! Keep thinking, bring your kids up in a faith is very important...It does not have to be Catholic...don't feel bad about that ~ your doing a wonderful job with your family and WE are ALL so very proud of you.

    Love, Lisa

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