As some of you my be aware, I have not felt entirely happy at my church for some time now. The church building and interior are ‘plush’ and the ‘Meeting Place’, where we have our services is just beautiful. We have a large and comfortable reception area, several conference rooms for meetings, a church office, a café and more. Most of the people who attend are reasonably friendly and usually say or nod a passing hello in my direction as I come in with my powered wheelchair. I am friendly, chatty (given the chance) and really enjoy the singing praise although the sermon seems to be lacking conviction, somewhat, just lately. We are a large church of about 400 members of which roughly half turn up for the main service and quite a few of them migrate to the café for tea or coffee and ‘chat’ afterwards.
People, in general, tend to gather in clusters when having a conversation or chat. When I was in my old manual wheelchair, I appreciated that if someone wanted to chat to me, they had to lean or crouch down to my level which wasn’t always, perhaps, comfortable, convenient or desirable. But now I am in my powered wheelchair, I am higher up so more on everybody else’s level. But still, they gather in their clusters and I am not included which I don’t, for a start, think is a very Christian thing to do. What happened to caring for one another? As it says in Hebrews 10.24, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”
I have been happy there in the past, when I was baptized and became a member back in 2008 and there have been many good experiences along the way, both social and spiritual, before I became so disabled. I am still a normal Christian with normal feelings…I don’t have green ears and a purple tail (at least, not last time I looked)!
So….. the long and the short of it that I think I have found myself a different church where I seem to be much more accepted, included and welcomed. It’s not a ‘smart, plush’ church. It’s held in a Community Hall with basic surroundings and is used for other activities, like ‘Kids’ Club’ in the week. The sermons are much more sincere without being solemn. The congregation and Pastors are much more casual though expressive and demonstrative and I like having the feeling of being able to express myself freely to praise God in the way that I want to. The Pastors wear casual clothes (as opposed to suits and ties), as do the congregation and I think more or less anything goes.The people are friendly and approach and treat me as a ‘normal‘ person.
When it boils down to it, it is not the surroundings, the building or the clothes that maketh a church or a Christian, but the heart and soul of the people gathered together within it, and I think that I have now found a place where I belong. So what is the guilt about?
The guilt complex is that I feel very disloyal to my first church by breaking away and going elsewhere to worship. Should it be like that? Is it wrong and disloyal? Does it matter where I worship? After all, there is only one God and He lives within us (if you have religious faith of any denomination). He is within our hearts. Will God really mind where I choose to worship? I think not. However, the feelings of guilt won’t go away. I’m going to talk to my current Minister next week and I am hoping we can part with good feeling and no blame.
Finally, to quote Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”
I have faith that He will lead me in the right direction…down the right path.