Sunday, August 22, 2004

So I visited my former church this morning. The pastor that was there before the present one (the man who was "my pastor" during a good portion of my time there) was in town to see his daughter settled in at U of K, and spoke this morning. I have to admit that my expectations for the service were pretty low overall (note that it is my former church), but I wanted to see Marc teach as a sort of transitional thing, lifewise. You know, out with the old and in with the new, being that tomorrow is final registration and book-buying day for the new college career and all. Anyway, as I said my expectations were fairly low. However, I didn't expect to feel like Jesus walking through the temple courtyard with my hands itching to turn over some tables!

It all started during "praise and worship". To you who are unfamiliar with the charismatic way of doing church, praise and worship is pretty much a 45-minute gospel concert at the beginning of the service, to get the congregants all revved up and "ready to receive". Of course, I expected that, and the Tribe of Judah (that's the name of the p&w team) are truly skilled at what they do. In fact, back in the day, I used to be one of them, until I realized that I was doing it to perform rather than to worship. That is a story for another day. So the Tribe was about halfway through a rousing number that was apparently titled, "My God Is More Than Enough", because that's the line that they repeated ad nauseum (oops, did I write that out loud?). Anyway, they're about halfway through this song when a woman in the row next to mine gets out of her row and, clutching a handful of money, proceeds to the stage and puts the money on the steps of the stage. Mind you, there is no receptacle there to put the money in, it's just lying there on the carpet. As the woman returns to her seat, I notice a woman seated behind her reach over and shake her hand, as if to say, "Good job!" Of course, in a deeply charismatic church, you can't let one person be seen as more "spiritual" than you, so before long a bunch of people were filing down to the stage with bills and checks in hand to add to the growing pile. At that point, I felt the Spirit of Gawd-ah rising up within me, saying (inside myself), "I hope they're happy, 'cause they just got all the reward they're gonna get!" In fact, the urge was very strong to go up to that stage to "give a word" (as I occasionally did, actually, when I was a regular attendee), and quote Matthew 6:1-2 to them, which says, "Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward." In fact, it was so strong in me to do this that I actually showed the scripture to my friend who was sitting in the row behind me, who I sensed to be of similar mind.

"Yeah, I know, I know. But don't do it," she said.

"Oh, I won't," I assured her. "After all, at this point I am just a visitor." Of course, I also knew that the pastors would never allow me to do so, anyway.

But, I was vindicated! When Marc got up to preach, it turned out that his message was on the subject of legalism and pride in the church! His main text was Matthew 16:6, which says, "Then Jesus said to them, 'Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.'" Yeah, baby! He had some really good things to say. Some quotes from the sermon are:

~Phariseeism is more about pointing out the faults of others than it is about helping people overcome their issues.

~Legalism is an obsessive conformity to a standard or rule for the purpose of exalting oneself to God or pleasing people.

"Any truth pushed to an excess becomes an untruth"~Kenneth Hagin, Sr.

The thing that bothers me a bit is that I know that probably none of the people who really needed to learn from that sermon will think that it was directed toward them. That's the thing with being prideful--most really prideful people have this image of themselves as being humble! Funny how that works, huh. Of course, we in the "emerging church" (is that what we're calling ourselves these days?) have our own brand of pridefulness to fall into if we're not careful. But that's a post for another day. This thing has gotten far too long already. Later!

posted by #Debi at 8:33 PM | permalink | 0 comments


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Hi, I'm Debi. Once in a while I have a thought and I like to write it down before it goes away. This is where I write it.

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