Sunday Morning


by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free
'IMGP6810_venetian-blinds' photo (c) 2011, Rae Allen - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

In the summertime, the light darts through the slits in the blinds all gold and sudden—no gentle fade through purple and blue and gray to get you used to the idea of another day. I wake and listen to Dan breathe next to me. We stopped setting an alarm a long time ago. 

Somewhere between 8 and 9, when the songbirds have settled down, I formulate my excuse: 

Too far to the Orthodox Church.

Too late for the Episcopal Church. 

Too liberal for the Baptist Church. 

Too conservative for the Mainline Church.

Too protestant for the Catholic Church. 

Too catholic for the Bible Church. 

No one asks anymore, but I was raised to be ready with an answer. So the excuses are part of the routine now—like finally kicking off the covers, like my dark roast with cream, like checking email, like morning prayer:

 “Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to the beginning of this day. Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do, direct me to the fulfilling of your purposes; through Jesus Christ my Lord.” 

Have I fallen into sin?

Who will bring casseroles when I have a baby?

What I feel these days is not guilt, but something far more nefarious:  dull resignation. There are nearly 200 churches near my small, Southern town, and hundreds more if we make the long drive to Chattanooga, so the fact that I can’t seem to make it through a single service without questioning the existence of God says a lot more about me than it does about church, now doesn’t it? 

Do I want a church that fits me, or a me that fits the church? 

God makes sense to me under the trees, and God makes sense to me in poetry and prayer, and God makes sense to me in Eucharist and Baptism and community and even creeds...but not in the offering plate, not in the building campaign, not in the pastor-who-shall-not-be-questioned, not in the politics, not in the assumptions about what a good Christian girl ought to be. 

Gentle, quiet. 

Am I selfish for wanting more? 

And who will bring casseroles when I have a baby? 

I don’t know how to explain it—to my family, to my readers, to myself—that, despite the fact that I know these good people would love me unconditionally, I don’t want to go back. I don’t want to be the change. I don’t want to try anymore. 

It’s 10:30 a.m., and I’m still tired

still tired from our failed church plant,

still tired from the local gossip,

still tired of being seen as a project and a prayer request because I believe the earth is more than 6,000 years old and that Anne Frank didn’t go to hell, 

still tired of patriarchy, 

still tired of feeling further away from myself when I am in church than when I am anywhere else in the world. 

I don’t know how to explain it —to my family, to my readers, to myself—how, when my gay friends aren’t welcome at the Table and my sisters aren’t welcome at the pulpit, somehow I’m not welcome there either.  I feel at once pride and guilt, the Pharisee and the prostitute. 

But who will bring casseroles when I have a baby? 

“Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to the beginning of this day. Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do, direct me to the fulfilling of your purposes; through Jesus Christ my Lord.” 

The sun has now lit the whole house, and I pray regardless of whether the prayer feels right. 

And hope that someday the same spirit will carry me back to church. 

***

So, what goes through your head on Sunday mornings these days?

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