For Christmas, when my family gathers for dinner, we stand in a circle to say grace. We are a mixed group of religious and non-religious: Methodist, Roman Catholic, charismatic, and whatever else we are that year, but we recite the Catholic prayer for meals each year.
Except this year we did it differently.
We said the Pledge of Allegiance like the characters in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Then, because we are a religious lot, we recited the Catholic prayer in unison. Just to make sure we didn’t offend Him overly much.
This past year I needed grace. I have been searching for God knows what as I ended one mission in Honduras, and began another, settling in Louisiana again, but I was wondering and doubting about many things. Perhaps, Grace had died 30 years ago.
I was bored with religion, rule-setters, and long sermons on issues that I didn’t care about. I heard little about justice, compassion, or being peacemakers in the Honduran or expatriate church congregations. I stopped going to church. In a nation such as Honduras, that led the world in homicides, I would think the Almighty might want his children to pray, if not talk, about these issues.
In the US, church didn’t seem all that good, either. There were rules, here, too. My church in the US had its code, too. We were very cool, you see.
Do not dress nicely. Never get too excited when singing about Me. Arrive 10 minutes late. Always, always, always, get a cup of coffee or tea at the kiosk in the lobby, and sip it during the service, showing much more affection to the hot beverage than Me. That’s cool, you know. I, YWHW, love caffeine. Not much else it seemed.
Well, thank ye the Lord, Grace actually did not pass away 30 years ago. Grace, the improbable, spontaneous, forgiving grace is seeping back into my life.
I am discovering anew that God dwells in the meeting place where my fears, insecurities, and questions are part of the dialogue. If you want to drop to your knees every time the call to worship calls and answer in mindless obedience, then go for it. If you want to count off your memorized prayers on prayer beads, that’s your choice. If you want to spin like a whirling dervish until your body and mind become one, that’s up to you.
I am just going to walk, talk and have debates with God.
And actually, I am back in the house of God, too. With Grace.