What would make me happy about church.

I saw a member of my old church recently. I asked her if she knew why I had left. She smiled and said no. She said “You are missed.” I said it’s been two years. I pointed out that if she wanted to know about me she could have called or written me. Of the 200 people in that church only three contacted me. Only three took the time to check up on me. It doesn’t sound like I’m really missed.

While in one way I feel that I wasted three years of my life there, in another I’m glad I got away when this was the response of a church that prides itself on being welcoming. If they can’t take the time to check up on the welfare of a regular member, then maybe it is all an act. I don’t have time for acts anymore. I need people who are real in my life.

She asked me if I was happy. And in a way I am. I’m glad that I’m being true to the voice of God. I’m glad that I didn’t listen to a minister who told me to be silent about that voice.

In a way, I’m not. I’d hoped that I could have found more of what I needed there rather than having to create it from the ground up. I’m sorry about how much emptiness I found. I wanted a community of people where we could share how God was working in our lives, and join together our energies to make the world better. I’m sorry about how I was treated by the minister. I’m sorry for her need to control. I’m sorry that my leaving was so abrupt and final.

I accept that it is all part of God’s plan. I just wish I’d had a bit more of a head’s up as to how it was going to go. I felt that I was abandoned on the side of the road with no map for a bit.

I told the member that I know what my calling is. I knew when I joined that church that it wouldn’t be forever. I knew that there would be a time or I would have to leave. I just didn’t know when and how that would happen. I certainly didn’t expect it to happen like it did.

What would make me happy about church?

All people are ministers. All gifts are valued – no higher than another. All are equal.

All are welcome – rich, poor, gay, straight, all races, and all abilities and genders. All are treated with respect.

The focus is on service to everyone – not just on members of the church.

No proselytizing. Your life is your testimony.

Church is a place where we refuel and reconnect to the Word, to the Vine. We learn how to serve. We learn how to discover, improve, and share our unique gifts with the world.

What would make me happy about church? If church was more about action and less about social club. If church was more about healing the world rather than like an AA meeting. It should be a place where everybody learns that we are loved just like we are – and then we share that message with the world with no exceptions or caveats.

A lot of people go to church to assuage their guilt. They’ve been taught that they are sinners, and the only way to get over that is to go to church. The structure of the service is often so that they have to come back every week to hear this message again. This isn’t what Jesus wanted. It isn’t about a guilt-trip at all. It isn’t about submission and fear. It is about us sharing that message of love and redemption to everyone we meet. We do that by treating everyone like Jesus would – with love, kindness, and compassion.

I’ve not found this yet. I’ve found pieces of it. I’ve found some that are very close, but they exclude women from being full members or ministers. I’ve found some that are high on service to the community, but still have the focus on one main personality – an ordained minister. I’ve found some that welcome other faith traditions for their wisdom but they shun people who are gay. So they are welcoming of some who are “other” but not all.

I learned as part of deacon discernment process that if you see something missing then it means that you are called to create it.

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Empty, but not gone.

Some of you may know that I have (had?) a mirror site to BetsyBeadhead. It is (was?) called Empty Cross Community. It has (had?) only my religious writings. It is (was?) a place where I could sort out what I want to put in my first book, and also is (was?) a place where I could direct people who might be interested in just that topic.

I’m not sure what verb tense to use, though. It is a bit like Schrodinger’s cat right now. Is it alive, or not? Does it exist, or not? I hadn’t put anything new in it in a while because I was working on the book. Mostly it is sorted out, and I didn’t have anything new to put in it. For that, I’m grateful. In a way, it has served its purpose.

Yesterday I went to put a new post into it and discovered I couldn’t. I discovered that my page had been shut down for a violation of the Terms of Service. There has been no warning and no explanation. I’ve written WordPress and not heard back so far. I’ve reread the Terms of Service and I don’t know what I’ve done wrong. I also think it is a bit severe for them to shut it down without a warning or a notification. There was no chance to correct whatever error they have found.

It is kind of like trying to go home and discovering that the bank has repossessed your house because they think you are doing something illegal in it.

Fortunately, it isn’t my house, but my “vacation home”, and I have copies of everything I’ve written. So nothing is lost but time. And some links. I have a website using the same name and it has a link to the blog which is broken now. I was using the blog to give more information than I could put on the website.

Possibly there is an issue with the name itself. There is a sculpture called the “Empty Cross”. The creator has trademarked the name. The idea of the cross is in harmony with the idea of my page. I’m not saying I’m part of them, but maybe they think I am – and because I’m not, they protested.

Maybe someone thought that the second page was stealing from the first page. Because there is nothing on the Empty Cross Community page that isn’t on the Betsy Beadhead page, perhaps they thought that someone on that page was stealing and reposting my blog.

Again, I don’t know. There was no warning, and no explanation.

Perhaps I need a new name for the second page. Perhaps I need to let it go and just focus on the book. But, I do like the idea of a focused blog page just for my religious writings. I don’t want to direct someone to my vision of a new church or a Bible study, only for them to get stuck in my rants about patriarchy, or wonder about my reading list for zombie fiction.

Or maybe that is the point. I am all those things.

I am a Jesus follower who reads zombie fiction, who has tattoos, who thinks that women are getting the short end of the stick, who works in a customer service job and gets annoyed at being treated like a servant, who tutors ESL and LD kindergartners… I am a lot of things, and some of them may seem to conflict with the idea of what defines a person who follows Jesus. Perhaps that is the issue. I want people to know that they can love Jesus and they don’t have to fit the mold of “Jesus freak”. That loving Jesus isn’t about wearing long dresses and homeschooling your kids and listening to “Christian” music and reading “Christian” books.

Well, it is about those things. But it isn’t JUST about those things. You can love Jesus and do none of those. Or all of them, and other things as well. Jesus’ arms are big enough to embrace us all. He was about turning the conventional way of thinking upside down back then too. He still is.

I certainly was having a problem with posting to both pages, using one browser. It is impossible to log into one WordPress site and then post on another one. It simply will only let me log into one at a time. So I can’t check the second one to see if I’ve already posted something from the first one in an easy way. I’d thought about installing another browser, in addition to Chrome, but now I’m thinking I need to use another blog platform.

And find another name. Anybody know a good name for what I’ve been writing about? I looked at ReVision – and that name is taken. I need something about how church isn’t what we think it is – it is less, and more at the same time. I need something that is easy to remember. I need something that embraces Orthodox and Pentecostal at the same time. I need something that goes back to the roots of what Jesus said and strips it all down. I need something that takes away all the pomp and puffery of two thousand years of humans getting in the way of God. We’ve put so much onto and into Jesus that we can’t see him anymore.

I need a name for that. I’m open to suggestions.