Monday, July 03, 2006

Tired, So Tired

(Sorry...I couldn't resist quoting from "Blazing Saddles." Shame on me!)

But really, I am tired (though not for the same reason Lili was!). Isn't that the way of things, when one is getting ready to take vacation? There is a lot of extra work to do just so one can take time off. I suppose it makes one need vacation just that much more.

I'm looking forward to my short little trip. It's a kind of working vacation; I'm going to a reading session in a neighboring state on Saturday and then on Sunday I'll attend worship at the mega-church that's hosting the session. This 300-mile round trip will be the farthest afield I've driven since 1998 and the first vacation I've taken since 2002. Talk about being stuck in the proverbial rut!

One of the reasons I need the break is to get a healthier perspective about my "fit" with my church. One of the problems with being a theological moderate and a political progressive here in Texas, is that everyone assumes you're something you're not: conservative on both counts. That's the politically and religiously popular "persuasion" to hold. The political side of this crystalized for me when an outspoken former colleague, who was about the same age as I, was gushing as she listened to the radio broadcast of President Reagan's funeral, "Oh, isn't it so sad to say good-bye to the first president you ever voted for?" She was horrified when I agreed that it was a sad occasion, but said I had not voted for him. I'll never forget the look of disgust on her face.

The same kind of thing happened yesterday at church, only I didn't exactly betray my true feelings. The assumption was that everybody was hunky-dory with our central banners (on either side of the large chancel cross) being taken down and replaced with American flags. I had to force myself to be up-beat about leading the National Anthem--all four verses of it--as our opening hymn. I made it a point not to betray my disappointment over what I had feared would happen--an American history lecture in place of biblical proclamation--as it did indeed happen. I was sick at heart, because the focus was about the "nation" trusting in God. As I see it, that's a cop-out. We Christians are to be salt and light. The national "trust in God" has been superficial at best and, these days, is pretty much only a saying. It takes real Christians actually trusting in God, in contrast to the national religion of trusting in self and nation, for the "trust in God" factor to increase. It was a message that apparently made a lot of people feel really good. It challenged us, as disciples of Jesus Christ, to do nothing except uphold a national motto. With the exception of our observance of Holy Communion, the service was as disappointing as I feared it would be. And with such things leading up to the Eucharist, there was a certain hollowness. The sermon had gone on so long that Communion was rushed and mechanical. Christ was still present. I hold on to that reality, even as I grieve over our idolatry.

So after putting in a lot of extra time getting things ready for next week, I was very tired. I took today off. I'm working (at the day job) tomorrow. I had no parades or cook-outs or parties or fireworks-watching outings scheduled anyway, and that's pretty much what Americans do to celebrate Independence Day. So I figure there is nothing wrong with observing a sabbath when I most needed one, and working through a secular holiday since there's still work to be done.

Maybe I'd better make this my last public gripe session for awhile. Gee, it was negative! But I think I'm in pretty good company. Elijah, Jeremiah, and the Psalmist himself all had some pretty negative things to say. From what I read, they got pretty tired, too.


Catherine + said...

Hello Psalmist. I agree. Thanks be to God for my rector, Anne Bartlett+ who knows exactly what to do on the Sunday close to the 4th...keep it simple and status quo, no big flag displays, hymns about Him not us and two former rectors of our parish co-celebrating. It was more a family of God reunion that packed us to the proverbial rafters!

But it was Christ-centered and even a nuclear bomb threat would not make Anne+ rush Eucharist--period.

I am sorry that what happened in your church was exactly what you had dreaded would happen. I am glaad that you are making the 4th your sabbath day, where you can honor in your rest the One who makes each day possible.


Songbird said...

Psalmist, did you see the story about a woman who walked out of church when the congregation stood during the singing of "God Bless the USA"--I have a link to it on my blog.
We are massively confused in this country about our symbols and our thoughts and our beliefs.
At Small Church, we had lectionary-based worship, as usual, and to my delight no one said a thing about it.
Bless you this day and on your continuing journey. There are others out here who share your feelings.

P.S. (an after-thought) said...

That's when following a lectionary is quite convienient.

loosedchains said...

As a non-citizen and a pastor I try hard to make a point of being on vacation over the 4th! It just makes things easier, I have battled over flags in the sanctuary and patriotic songs in worship. There are a lot of people out there who feel this way.

Psalmist said...

Thank you all for your comments. It's really good to know I'm not the only person who feels as I do about this issue.

Songbird, I didn't find that link. If you read this, would you mind pointing me specifically to it? That's something I'd really like to read.

I suppose I'm getting my come-uppance for being so judgmental on this. My pastor asked me tonight if I'd be willing to preach a week from Sunday. This will be the first Sunday morning and full-length sermon I'll have preached in over four years. In addition to composing during my time away, I guess I'd better be letting a sermon cook, too.