Confession: I’m not so good at members’ meetings.
They seem to be a two-hour plunge into human folly.
I don’t like the tedious agendas, set by our poor wonderful hard-working pastors.
I don’t like the controversy, created by our strong truth-loving parishioners.
I don’t like the chaos, produced by our lively kids weary of too many church services in one day.
Members’ meetings remind me of how I feel about going to the bathroom.
[Peals of laughter from the writer. And from the reader—shock! Hear the loud alarum bells, brazen bells…]
But I’m serious. With the world to conquer and explore, why would I want to spend time sitting in isolation in a small white room? My philosophy is to do it as infrequently as possible; but I hardly have to say how I pay for my belief.
I feel frustrated by the amount of time I must spend caring for this body of mine. I want to celebrate and sing and plant and discover and talk and dance, but I must punctuate these joyous outward activities with so much that feels repetitive, meaningless, and inward. Feeding. Combing. Scrubbing. Trimming. Healing. Removing. Applying. Swallowing. Checking. Brushing. Dressing. Purchasing. Exercising.
Can it be that in church life, some of the distasteful must-do tasks are equally important to the health of the body? Do I resent caring for the body, which ought to be worshipping, discipling, and healing the world?
I think it is possible to go overboard both ways, to be so obsessed with the maintenance of my body that I neglect its purpose… or to be so obsessed with purpose that I neglect maintenance. Equally essential is noticing that I dare not do these tasks sequentially—all of one without mixing in the other. They must run parallel, a bit of one and then the next. I find it fascinating that Scripture instructs us to do both.
I won’t get it perfectly balanced.
Neither will my church.
But last night I went gladly to spend time in a small white room with these people I love, because I care about removing toxins that we may rise up in strength. I care about trimming nails, that we may touch without scratching. I care about clothing this body, that we may walk forward without shame.
1. Our church has gone around and around on questions of communion—is it unfair to restrict the Lord’s Supper to participants who have committed themselves to some local congregation? etc… We’re nowhere near the end of the discussion (and I lean first one way, then the next, with truly feminine stolidity), but I find it helpful to note that when Jesus instigated the feast, He did it in an upstairs room with his twelve best friends and a closed door. Meanwhile, people got hurt in the streets below. Girls cried in the city, children were lost and found again, men struck cheap bargains. He quietly served the bread and wine.
2. Above, I quoted from Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “The Bells.” Here is a fun read-aloud of the whole piece, performed by Basil Rathbone. Fun, I say, but by the end it drives you nuts, as it was intended to. I don’t like the pictures, so I minimize them.
3. I am ‘not liking’ a lot these days. Forgive me. I will not always be so negative. It’s this thing I do, bout this time of year.