I was raised to not regard church as simply another manifestation of free economic enterprise. My parents demonstrated this by attempting to resolve the issues between themselves and the church of my childhood for 27 years. From 1976 to 2003 we attended regularly as a family. I’ve only been significantly involved in 1 or 2 churches since I went off to college in 1994. But currently, I am out of a church and church shopping has been forced upon me for the first time in my life. I’ve regarded it a necessary evil and feel even worse about it now that recently I’ve had two people chastise me for church hopping/shopping. I feel even worse as I see “the vendors” attempting to sell their church to me for whatever cause. I wish I could simply be invisible.
Regardless the situation, I’ve had to ask myself the question—what is it that I’m looking for anyway? Sincerity? Passion? Truth? Other-centeredness! Diversity. Perseverance in the faith? a faith that won’t crumble in the face of coercion or persecution? Yeah, yeah…all that! But sometimes it is as though I can’t describe the element I’m looking for. I’ve puzzled for several weeks about what it is that I’m after and almost believed my chastisers—that I’m just turning this into a shopping spree. However, I landed on it a while ago and its becoming increasingly clearer.
What I really, really want is the sweet and heavy presence of God on/within/manifesting through me as I’m in community with others. That is church. How does one find such a thing?—is the question. Do I go church shopping? Do I set up a 24/7 prayer vigil? How does one pursue the living, moving, rectifying, exciting, loving, passionate, healing, terrifying presence of God? I have memories of times in my life when that presence was nearer and I miss it terribly. To the bane of others I have always asked questions such as, where is the healing presence of God, at inopportune times in Bible studies, religious discussions etc. But with a close friend on the verge of death for the past 3 years, I DO want to know where the healing, rectifying presence of God has gone since Pentecost. Yet two things I know, which direct me. I know Pentecost did not happen to an individual. And it happened in an upper room. Thus, I will not seek it solo nor will I wait in the lower rooms of the world.