Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Church

*not meant to offend or spark debate about the Catholic church, just my thoughts and where my heart is at this time*

I've gone to church all of my life, from two weeks of age. I was baptized and married in the Catholic church and have joined many services: lecturer, communion minister, youth group mentor, choir and pantry pals (stocking a local soup kitchen). I've never really questioned my religion and at times have been very prideful of it. It is the longest standing Christian religion, the first actually, with St Peter as the first Pope and buried underneath the Vatican. How cool is that?? I still would LOVE to go there!! *hint hint - I need more pics Liz!* With such a long history comes "dark days" as I have called them. Our country is only a little over 400 yrs old to the European nations and only about 250 years standing on it's own...and don't get me going on how corrupt politics over here are already. So, for a religion being 2000 years old...I don't think a few hitches in the middle ages is too bad.

Lately, I've just been calling myself Christian when someone asked me my affliation. Ian DESPISES denominations and refuses to pick any, only calling himself Christian too. When William came into our lives, we kind of fell away from the church we were members of. We attended the smaller Catholic church in downtown Wilmington, St Mary's Basillica. It was BEAUTIFUL! And I liked the smaller communtity compared to the much more crowded Catholic church on the other side of town. But it didn't have air condition, it was a much older church...and with a new baby and no air circulation...ugh! It became convenient to not go. Once William got a little older, we did go, but only when it worked with nap times...didn't want to subject everyone else to tiredness induced tantrums. Yes, there is a nursery, but what's the point of going to church as a family...if your family isn't together? My brother and I always sat with my parents...with a coloring book and cheerios in hand. :)

Enter Matthew! Of course from February until his birth in June, I pretty much was not allowed off the couch except to have a needle stuck through my tummy. Then he arrives and we are ALWAYS at the hospital for the first five months until we reach the decision to start hemodialysis...which again puts us the hospital all the time, but at least has cut down our hospital over nighters to ZERO! * I heart hemo * :) When we have needed God the most, I felt like I had forsaken him. I was always inviting (pleading with) Him to come to MY house and bless and look after MY family...but I never went to His house. Now I do know, or I least I think I know, God doesn't care if you talk to Him in your kitchen or in a cathedral...He just wants you to check in...remember Him and maybe even (gasp) say thanks every now and again. For both the blessings and lessons (which alway suck at first, but end up making you a much better person). Seriously, that's all...He's much less demanding than my biological father... he wants me to rub his feet all the time. ;)

So, Ian and I start talking and praying (which due to exhaustion and duty rotations and wrestling practices hasn't been as much as it should be) about what we should do next. I tell Ian I want to find a home, a church for us as a family. Natually, I look at Catholic churches and even call the local one up for a membership packet. When I get it...I throw it away (sorry trees). And then I get my "sister, Audrey" on the phone. "Can I still be one of your boys godmother if I'm not Catholic?" I can! Yay! She's involved in a parish that isn't as "by the book". So the search starts. I "research" religion and beliefs and found my fit. Now to go to the church and see if it is a true fit.

The hard thing is to leave the "comfort" of the Catholic church. I knew this would take baby steps...as change usually does for me. I like the flow of mass, saying the Lord's prayer every Sunday while holding hands with strangers, the peace offering as you shake hands and say "peace be with you", and I love that I get to hear three bible readings, old testament, new testament, gospel, all one sitting. I always had issues with confession with a priest (I always choose to go directly to God), I never quite understood how much power the Pope has...and I think he doesn't need to be getting into politics either, and yes, why can't priests get married? I know they are supposed to live a completely Christ like life and Jesus never married. I know that with marriage comes a family and with a family comes responsibility and worries...which can take you away from your obligations to your church family. But all the other "religions" seem fine with their married pastors, preachers and ministers.

Ian and I, last Sunday, went to our new church. Good Shepherd Lutheran church. I know...all of you are shaking your heads now or rolling your eyes. (yeah, it's pretty much Catholic - but it's different). It's how I think the Catholic church was meant to be...how it was in the beginning. Not so much focus on rituals and deeds, more focus on God and His words that are written. It has the same exact flow and all the things that I love about the Catholic mass, but no Pope, confession is to God alone (unless you need spiritual or emotional support from a priest) and the priests are allowed to married if they choose to do so. The big step is now...I'm a Protestant. Christians are grouped into two groups: Catholics and Protestants...almost like an "us" and a "them"; "Rebs" vs "Yanks"...luckily with a lot less hostility, but hostility is still there.

From me being born and raised in the South, Catholic is NOT cool. I was told, at the age of 12, to get out of a small town southern church (that I am omitting the denomination ,but will never set foot in because I think they are judgemental hypocrites) to get out of their church because I was contaminating it just by being Catholic. The beautiful, small Catholic church on the base of Fort Benning in Columbus GA, was vandalized and burned to the ground with hateful notes spread about the site. Being the minority, I never understood the hate some of these groups had...but I guess that goes with every other hate crime out there. So, going from Catholic to "the others", is hard pill to swallow actually. But it's just a name...who cares really right?

Sunday afternoon, I hadn't felt that happy in a REAL long time! I couldn't stop smiling and the little things that usually get under my skin...didn't. Both Ian and my mother noticed the difference and made comments about it. Singing in church always did that for me...and singing in a church that I now agree with 99% instead of 85%...well that's just awesome. Can't wait for next Sunday!

2 comments:

Randi Jo :) said...

Thats wonderful Karen. I'm so happy for you! :) I could probably go on and on and on (and on) about churches (and on) and religion...

but instead I will just say...

God loves you. and He loves that you love Him. We are not connected to God through the church... but we are connected to THE Church (THE Body of Christ) by our relationship with Him. The fact that you wanted to find a church family is so a direct reflection of how your relationship with Him is growing and He is tugging you to get around others who love Him too. Church comes in so so so many forms --- each for different types of people with different experieences.

most important --- we are ALL part of THE Body!

LOVE YOU! :)

Arizona Mamma said...

I feel very similar to you on this. I actually really like our church though. Our priest is very non-traditional. He is way more about the relationship with God than he is about rituals. In fact he won't say the nicene creed because he disagrees with some of the things in there. Pretty forward thinking.

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