Monday, April 24, 2006

Sitting at the Crossroads --
Sometimes the good days in church are harder than the bad ones.

Yesterday was a good day. I found myself reflecting on the fact that the time spent singing the sacrament hymns are for me the most worshipful experiences found in any church. I love the quiet contemplation found in singing congregational hymns, as opposed to the chirpy "Jesus is my buddy" songs I have found in contemporary worship in other churches. By that I mean specifically the sacrament hymns, not odes to Joseph Smith, our mountain home, angels silently notes taking, calls to serve, counting my blessings, etc.. Hymns specifically about Christ and the atonement.

After sacrament I steeled my self for the expected talks on missionary work, obedience, standards of morality, tithing, priesthood, the restoration, etc.. Much to my surprise the 1st was on agency, and managed to avoid "to do" lists generally. The second was on taking upon ourselves the name of Christ, and quoted heavily from Robinson's "Believing Christ" and some of Covey's thoughts on the economy of scarcity and abundance, where we tear others down out of a mentality of scarcity and need to consider the infinite abundance of the atonement and God's love. They were both great talks.

Sunday school was pretty good, basically focusing on how the experience of the Israelites in the wilderness exemplified the importance of gratitude and our dependence on God. Only a slight "follow the prophets" detour.

Elders Quorum was a great lesson on Christlike forgiveness.

Nobody said a thing about Joseph Smith, the restoration, or worthiness all day.

These days can be hard, because I ask myself, "so exactly what is so bad about this church again?"

I have to remind myself that the topics that have always resonated with me, even when I was TBM, were those centered around Christ. Those that tended to set my teeth on edge were those centered on the restoration, quoting sanitized historical information, and those that basically abandon the atonement in favor of beating us up about our worthiness. As well as those who try to force us into one model of evangelism. And those preaching the oversimplified gospel of "the righteous will be blessed and the wicked will be cursed", and implying that keeping the commandments binds God through covenants into giving us blessings of some kind.

I also have to remind myself that the church is different things to different people, even in the ranks of the GAs. Some GAs can preach sermons on Christ that will bring tears to my eyes, while others are firmly pharisaical in their approach to the church. For some the LDS church is a Christian church of almost evangelical Protestant proportions, while to others it's more about restoration of authority than about Jesus.

All of which tends to reinforce my belief that there is much truth in the church, but it is not the only, or even the best, receptacle of gospel truth. As long as I can find truth in it, I will find difficultly letting go of it, even if I find myself straying other places at times in order to get the dose of true Christian grace that is often lacking.

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