I went to church this morning. My goal has basically been to go to church every other week when in Jackson. My goal has basically not been met. Today, I intended to make visit #3 to Bible Fellowship. If it was a good experience, I would then dig for more information on the church and learn important things like their stance on homosexuality. However, I had one of those nights that I wish existed less often where I spent hours awake but too tired to do anything productive. Goal in mind, however, I got up. Late. And slowly. I got ready for church but started thinking making that 10:30am service was asking for a bit much. No problem. I'd check out an 11am service... where? Apparently, my list of places I want to visit is almost none existent and the one church I could think of started at 10:15. For 20 minutes, I used the Internet to find somewhere to go today. It didn't work. I remembered the list I pulled from the newspaper and tacked on my refrigerator and there I found an 11am service: Truth and Love Church. I made an online friend that is a lesbian and goes to the Truth and Love in Humboldt or somewhere. She said she hadn't really heard them talk about homosexuality and they knew she was gay and didn't treat her any less. She recommended I check it out. Today, I did.
The Scripture today was I Thessalonians 2. The opening piece of that, for me, was affirming:
2 But even[a] after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict. 3 For our exhortation did not come from error or uncleanness, nor was it in deceit.
The pastor said he was going to preach on priorities. He said Truth & Life needs to have 4 main priorities.
I thought this might be a good sermon 1 for me to hear. I figured I could hear what the church was about, and maybe I would learn its take on homosexuality. I did.
1) Be Biblical
2) Be Authentic
3) Be Gracious
4) Be Relevant
It was a good sermon. I would go back because his sermon was full of love. Love, love, love, and be real. I don't think Pastor Cupples has to worry about blood being on his hands from his congregation members verbally or physically abusing LGBT people in the "name of Holiness". Pretty much everything that came out of his mouth made it plain he wouldn't approve of something like that, no matter the person's perceived sin. And, after saying homosexuality is a sin he told the congregation to hold their applause 'cause adultery, shacking up, and having premartial sex are sins too. I appreciate that he didn't just lay it in on homosexuals. Of course, queers are the only ones in his listing that just are; everything else had to do with a choice people make. Although I enjoyed the sermon's overall message and the style of service, I still found myself leaving church going, "Gee. God, am I a sin? Do I have it all wrong? This pastor seemed like such a nice guy, smart and authentic, yet he said I'm a sin." (of course, HE would probably say he said homosexuality is a sin, not the person. But ask a queer person the difference.) So no, I can't go back to Truth and Love because spiritual violence (a phrase I picked up from Walter Wink) occurs there and I have no desire to help perpetuate that but also, I don't need to experience it.
Some positives from today's experiences:
1. I obtained For the Bible Tells Me So. I intended to buy it but it costs more than I tend to pay for DVDs. I downloaded it, legally, I think. I'd be happy to make a donation to whatever agency made it available for me to download as such. You can also watch it online. It's sad that going to church made me feel the need to find affirmation that I'm not a Christian in vain, that God isn't inherently disgusted by who I am because of who I love.
2. I was reminded of the need to work in my Christianity. I don't pray enough. I don't read the Bible enough. I don't stay the course. I think of starting an affirming group in the back of my mind but before I get the go-ahead or a new course or a nothing, I must be consistent and take steps to grow. Grow, grow, grow. I think of starting something like Columbia Progressive Christians or the Stone or maybe even Soulforce.
3. I went to another church. That's church #3 for this area.
4. I'm gonna ask other lgbt ppl where they go for worship. Tilley went to a TEP meeting and apparently, a bunch of them go to church.
This experience wasn't great in the story of me loving me but it did serve the purpose of reminding me that there is much work to be done. Biblical. Authentic. Gracious. And Relevant. Amen, Preacher, Amen.
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