Thursday, December 3, 2009

Christmas without a Home

This will be the first Christmas in over thirty years I will not have a church home. This Christmas may also be the first without a house to call my home. Either event would make me sad, together they are devastating.

The church that I helped start has changed beyond recognition. While I can find no fault with its new outreach to young adults, I can find no comfort in the worship service. My one haven has been my Sunday School class, but that group has changed even more. I suspect that in response to some of the attempts to make the church more up-to-date and diverse, that the members of my class have retreated to traditional Southern Baptist beliefs. One of those beliefs says that mental illness is a result of weakness, sin, and a lack of faith. Since I have been fighting depression, I have been excluded from the class. Oh, when I miss class for several weeks, someone will email me to say they miss my comments in class. Never do they inquire about my well-being or say that they are concerned about me. When I told some of the class that I was no longer going to attend, the relief was palpable.

One member had the audacity to say the misery I'm suffering is the Holy Spirit leading me somewhere else. I do not believe God inflicts suffering upon us. Some cite the book of Job as an example of God allowing the devil to infest our lives with ills. Those that do ignore the history of the book The earliest version of Job deals with suffering with no explanation for it, only that it is the way of this world. That version clearly indicates that there is no connection between a person's worth and what happens to them. The beginning and end of Job were added much later by scribes who needed an explanation for suffering that was not provided by the original book. Jesus made clear that evil consequences were not the result of personal sin when he spoke of a tower's collapse that killed eighteen people. Jesus said "Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwell in Jerusalem? I tell you , Nay."

Advent began on Sunday. I will celebrate the promise of the coming of God with prayer. I will listen for the still, small voice to lead out of my long night.

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