Sunday, December 24, 2006

update on wayne and calvary fellowship mountlake terrace

Two weeks ago I posted here about my experience with a charity working party from Calvary Fellowship Mountlake Terrace and Pastor Wayne. In that post, I complained a little about ... proselytization by Wayne.
So I wanted to continue the story. Helen at CatE suggested emailing Wayne and just letting him know that I had felt a little uncomfortable with his multiple invitations to his church in spite of my repeated rebuttals. So I did. And then a very strange thing happened. Wayne emailed back this totally normal, humble reply in which he apologized. I was kind of astounded, as most of my experience with "Christian leaders" has been that they aren't about to apologize for coming on too strongly. Thankyou Wayne. You rock.
So as it turns out, my best friend Walter, who originally invited me to the work party, also invited me to go with him and his wife to the Christmas Eve service at Calvary Fellowship. And since I didn't really have any better options, being home alone and all, I decided to go. Just kind of a way of staying out of trouble, if nothing else...although that doesn't really work, since I generally don't like the tenor of my own thoughts when I am sitting in a Sunday Morning Church® service, which this more or less was.
There was, however, an incident which made me like Wayne even more. Before the service, I went up to say "Hey". And he said "Hey", and "How's it going--good to see you again." And I said "fairly ######--my wife and children are on a beach in Port Macquarie right now, while I rot in this dark cold raining lonely hell". So anyway, a man and a lady came up to us, and Wayne knew the man, and he asked him "So, is this your mother?" And the man said "nope, it's my girlfriend". Oops. So after they moved on, I told Wayne how that had happened to me at Megan's cousin's wedding, when I turned around and asked Aunt Meredith (who is, by the way, one of the most delightful people I've ever met) if John, who is actually her brother, and who was sitting next to her, was her son? Like "So is John your son?" Oops. Poor Megan turned six shades of pink. And then I told Wayne how I had gone afterwards and apologized, and lovely Meredith had been fine with it. And here's the kewlest thing. Wayne picked right up on that, which I hadn't at all intended, and he said "That's a great idea--I'm going to go apologize right now." Very kewl.

Alas, I should have known better about going to the Christmas Eve service. As is usual, my thoughts were mostly negative and confused. Some things that bothered/confused me:

1. They sang a bunch of Christmas carols with lyrics that just didn't work for me. The lyrics talked about Jesus being the savior, his glory over the whole earth, his causing oppresion to end, the wonder and beauty of experiencing his love and joy all around the world, and so forth. You know--typical Christmas hymns. Meanwhile, I was sitting there thinking that 25000 children will die today from starvation. Most of the people sitting in that service probably spent upwards of $1000 on Christmas presents, which would buy ... for instance, needed antiretroviral medications for 17 HIV positive children in the developing world for all of next year. Where is all the love, joy, peace, salvation, glory, etc which Jesus is supposed to have brought? When millions (yes, millions!) of children have HIV/AIDS? When 25000 children die every day from starvation? When armed conflict is the modus operandi of international relations? When .... well, clearly I could go on. Name your poison. I tend to always experience this oversized disconnect when I sit in Sunday Morning Church® services. It's a big part of why I almost never go to them anymore. Pastor Wayne asked god to bless and protect us as we do our family celebrations and partake of our feasts tomorrow. Mainstream christianity is no longer counter cultural--it's become this completey bastardized mezcla of Jesus/the gospels/the bible and typical culture within our country--so that it is fairly easy to be a christian and pursue the "American Dream", which of course, implies the "Developing World Nightmare".
stepping off soap box now. See. This is why I just shouldn't (there I go, shoulding on myself) attend Sunday Morning Church® services. It accomplishes nothing good, and actually creates a lot of negative vibes.


Megs said...

i'm looking forward, over the years, to together work out how to live in this tension. Perhaps our lives are marked to, together, and in some small way, be a light and a hope and a change-agent for some of those suffering ones you mention?

love you bens!

Megs said...

PS i love you!!!

Megs said...

PPS i love you!

Megs said...

PPPS i love you!!!!!!!

Megs said...

PPPPS i love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Megs said...

PPPPPS i love you...

Helen said...

Hi Benjamin,

I went to a Christmas Eve service too. It was a traditional Episcopal one.

I found the hope and joyful expectation in the traditional words moved me.

But I agree with you in wondering why humanity is not doing better in our world today, in light of that.

I'm glad Wayne has turned out to be kewl.

As far as I'm concerned, the kewlest Christian leaders are those who are nice to you even when you don't go to church. (And they aren't doing it just to get you back to church even though they probably can't help thinking that would be a good thing)

It sounds like Wayne might be one of those even though he did invite you at first. He probably had no idea of why it doesn't work for you to go, so it wasn't exactly his fault that he said something so contrary to what works for you.

Anonymous said...

Benjamin, this is pastor Wayne. I enjoyed reading your blog about me and us, and I gained a better perspective on where you're coming from. Thanks for that.