Born Again Again
Carol Howard Merritt on reclaiming faith
All posts licensed under Creative Commons, some rights reserved by Carol Howard Merritt.
Many times we are working with church structures of a different time. I have seen churches with 50 people attending on Sunday morning, and they maintain 12 committees. There may have been a lot of retirees in the church, so we have committees who meet in the day. Or there might have been a lot of people without children, so everyone meets at night—on a different night, to ensure that the pastor is at every meeting.
I had been a pastor long enough to know that outside work was done with stealth. I could serve at the soup kitchen, teach art at the women’s shelter, protest against violence, or hone my writing craft, but I when I did it, I acted like a lover with a jealous husband. I snuck around at odd hours and guiltily confessed to members when they asked me where I had been.
My travels have allowed me to look at new church movements from the view of a seminary, practitioners, and denominational leadership.
If you’ve been fired or forced out, it doesn’t always mean you need to fold up the cloth all together. It’s incredibly painful. We might feel a spiritual rejection that we’ve never experienced. We may have a loss of identity. Betrayal might become wounds that are so deep that we don’t feel like we’ll be able to love a congregation again. We may feel abandoned by God. But sometimes we just need to need to endure the ache, walk through the rejection, and find a place where our gifts can flourish.
It is a subtle shift that we make in our liturgy and preaching. But it’s an important one. We do terrible things and we must confess our action. But we are good. We are made in the image of God. And in Jesus Christ, we are forgiven people.