Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Letter to My UCC Pastor Betsy

Dear Betsy,
I continue to read Marilyn Robinson (Gilead and now Home) and have found it refreshing to look at my theological roots. You asked once Why I go to church. I'm sure my reply was about finding the "peace that passeth all understanding" which dances around a personal need for the sacred - a search for meaning and something as paradoxical as being spiritually solid. 
In "Home", a powerful book about family, religion, race, and above all loneliness, Glory, the 38 year old daughter of her father, a dying minister ruminates about faith:
"Faith for her was habit and family loyalty, a reverence for the Bible which was also literary, admiration for her mother and father. And then that thrilling quiet of which she had never felt any need to speak."
That 'thrilling quiet' seems like the sacredness for which I "go to church". In our current service it is most available in verbal or silent  prayer. I know you will not take it wrong that the church for me needs to be more than a recitation of Social Service accomplishments of which our particular church has an enviable list.
This member needs to have an opportunity to be with God in the service. There is a distinction between "praying" and "praying about". We only get in touch with the presence of God when the voice in our head is silenced. Sometimes this happens.

This probably seems too heavy so I'll end with something I recently received from the church of my childhood. We Congregationalists were brought up to remember our fore-fathers as the Plymouth Rock Boys. This obit piece reminded me of that.

At her death she was the longest-affiliated member of the First Congregational Church of La Grange. Pauline had an extensive collection of thimbles and belonged to the Thimblefools of Northern Illinois. She was an accomplished amateur genealogist, having traced her lineage as well as her husband's back many generations. She was a direct descendant of pilgrims John Alden and Priscilla Mullins and was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. 

We have a proud and splendid history and it is amazing to realize that the Pilgrim's descendants are still capable of showing up.
Sincerely,
Don

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