Saturday, July 3, 2010

Independence Day

We are casual acquaintances, tending towards short conversations touching on some aspect of Christian--a commonality along the lines of England and the US, "two nations divided by a common tongue".

Today as she talked about her reasons for leaving her former church to join her present one, she emphasized, "They weren't following the Bible." She related a story where she felt the pastor had fallen short. She had prevailed on him to intervene in someone ELSE's situation--one not directly involving her--where she felt the other party was sinning. She was "following proper biblical discipline procedures" of going to the party that offended her (not directly, but by offending someone else) with her pastor and another church member. Needless to say, the person thus confronted (I'm not clear whether this was even a member of the pastor's church or not) did not mend her ways immediately. The last straw for my friend was that the pastor said, "Well, what can we do? We don't want to offend anyone!"

I have to agree I would not have a lot of respect for a pastor who didn't want to make waves. Jesus was ALL about "punching holes in the status quo to make room for more love in the world." He DEFINITELY offended people. He got crucified for it, in fact.

But, was this woman wearing a head covering? No, neither her former church nor her new church required women to cover their heads in obedience to Corinthians. So, who's calling who "unbiblical" here? I just have to shake my head and say a little prayer sometimes when "bible-thumpers" harangue someone about failing to follow one scripture, when they are failing to follow one of the clearest, most straight-forward, and easy-to-fulfill scriptures!

And--in addressing the problem of her being offended by someone's behavior which did not directly involve her, it seems to me that the scripture about minding the log in one'e own eye before worrying about the mote in another's needs to be balanced against the procedure for dealing with someone else's improper behavior. Maybe it wasn't that the pastor didn't want to offend the "immoral" third party, but rather he didn't want to offend this woman I was talking to by telling her to MYOB?

Her uneven attention to scripture was neatly exemplified as our conversation drew to a close.

This year July 4th falls on a Sunday--tomorrow. As she departed, I said my customary all-purpose farewell: "Have a good one!"

She replied, "Have a good Fourth of July!"

Hm, wouldn't a Christian have said, "Have a blessed sabbath?" rather that focusing on the secular holiday?

My Christian faith and practice of living "in the world but not of the world" has led me to examine my priorities in the light of scripture. The sabbath--God's holiday--comes first above secular occasions. I quietly refrain from the practice of many secular occasions for several scriptural reasons...mainly from the point of view of not wasting precious resources on frivolous material things that will not last.

My thoughts on Independence Day run towards sadness for those who died in the struggle to free us from the tyranny of British rule. For what were their lives lost? To replace the monarchy with the tyranny of TV, Walmart, and minimum-wage jobs? Serious stuff.

Therefore, I declare my independence from Independence Day! I'll celebrate the first Sabbath of the month as usual by going to church with the Old German Baptists, who practice the separation of church and state fairly rigorously. Likely there will be comments about "the world" celebrating some strange holiday with disruption and excesses. After church, I'll go the the Shape Note Sing, and practice a "lost art" dating back to this country's colonial times.

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