The beauty of the church

I walk into the church. I see a sea of faces all chatting and welcoming one another. I see the lady who has just lost a family member being embraced and children running around excitedly before they head off to their Sunday club.
The noise is loud. But it’s not hostile in any way.
I see new comers being welcomed in and introduced to people so they don’t feel alone during the service.
There are the teen-agers in their trainers, all looking as enthusiastic as the adults around them, happy to see their friends who perhaps they’ve missed in the week.

The service is about to begin. The atmosphere is tangible with expectation and when we all stand to sing our praises an incredible sense of peace, power and excitement fills the room. I’m not sure what happens exactly. I heard it described once as heaven invading. As our songs of worship go up, the glory of God comes down. It really can feel that way. I’m sure it’s a taste of what’s to come in heaven! It’s an honour to be able to be in a place we get to experience a slice of it. Isn’t it wonderful? What ever it is, it’s my favourite part of the entire morning!

After a while we all take our seats. Notifications can snap us back out of the zone, but then prayer once again pulls us back. Again the same feeling I described in worship can be felt, but this time less excited. A sense of calm washes over us. I feel focused and ready to listen.
Again the sermons are invaluable. I’ve read the bible almost every day for my entire life, but still every time I listen I see a something written in a new light. It amazes me, after so much study of one book there is still so much to learn!
I’m so grateful for leaders that guide us through that and help to open our eyes.

Confession. I haven’t been to church in a long time. I still go to bible studies, but for over a year now I have barely stepped foot in a church and I miss it. My heart aches for it. Genuinely.
We were designed to be a part of this beauty.

There are a lot of reasons I haven’t been in so long. Despite the areas I feel the church have room for improvement (there is always room for that, we are made of humans and never entirely perfect.) it’s not the reason.
Moving to a new area plays a part, as do having two children who are autistic and struggle there.
But the true reason is, I’ve needed time to process. Spending my whole life in the church has been amazing, but I needed the time to study alone. I needed to work out what I believed and why I believed it, instead of having people tell me.
I needed to search and find who God was to me personally.
I knew some things I felt, were things that I would be in the minority on, and I wasn’t strong enough.

So instead I’ve used the time away for growth. It’s been a phase of transition. A phase of learning. I have a lot of friends to thank that have stuck by me and allowed me to work things through alone. Friends to thank for being there to sound things off and discuss things when I needed too and for giving me the room to breathe.
I’ve learned so much in this time, it’s been a challenge. Answering your own questions, acknowledging those questions that have no answers and figuring out where you fit is not an easy challenge! I’m also grateful for a very patient God, who hasn’t once turned his back.

This blog is, in a way, a final stage of this journey. A way to put a voice to the things I believe, things that I’m so passionate about.

I don’t speak out about things we need to work on within the church because I hate it, I speak out because I love it so much and it hurts my heart that we get things so wrong at times that people miss the beauty. It is beautiful.

One day I truly believe that we can be united. Where sexual orientations no longer isolate. A time that we won’t be divided on the role women have in church. I want to be a part of that change so badly! We will never be perfect, but we are beautiful and all we can ever strive to do is seek the heart of God.

I can’t wait to get back 🙂

IMG_7935.JPG

Advertisements

Accepting Evangelicals Conference

Second blog of the day! Please do go look at my previous blog if you haven’t already! It was a poem and it’s exactly what I’m about to write about that inspired it, but I’ll explain that more further down.

If nobody has heard of accepting Evangelicals, they are amazing! I fully recommend taking a look at their website (I will post a link at the end!)
But they are group of evangelical Christians, passionate about accepting everybody, especially those within the LGBT community.
They, in my opinion, bring church back to what it should be. They are about bringing everybody together, so that there is no isolation.
As you can imagine, this was exactly the kind of conference I wanted to be part of. After a week of illness I was so blessed to be able to go!

What I saw there actually blew me away. The passion for God was almost tangible!
The room had such an amazing atmosphere, so full of love and passion!
Every one there together, LGBT and straight allies worshipping together with total freedom to be who they are. Total freedom to be who I am!

Vicky Beeching spoke in interview on stage, and the point she made is that people say that she doesn’t take the bible seriously but actually it’s about taking the bible very seriously! Looking into scripture, looking at context and actually taking time to really think.
She spoke of the hurt, how hard it is to come out as gay within the Christian faith, and about weighing up the cost. But also about the freedom in being able to be who you are.
Honestly an inspiring woman. She speaks simply, but her words are godly and so full of truth.

The next person to do his talk, was Steve Chalk. He is the founder of Oasis who were part of the evangelical alliance until he started to speak out and put across the view that same sex relationships weren’t sinful.
There was so much passion in his words! He spoke dreams and how the world didn’t need dreamers, they needed people with vision! Visions are things that get into every part of your body and make you do something! You need people of vision, to change the things that are hurting the people we are called to serve!

I came away so uplifted! The church has a long long way to go on this one.
Yesterday the Catholic Church wouldn’t agree to the popes proposal. But yet the Pope still opened conversations that so desperately needed to happen.
I’m not catholic, but it doesn’t even matter.
What we need is, regardless of denomination, people with a vision!
We need people who want to see, every single person welcomed with in the church exactly as they are.
We need people that realise, that maybe here we’ve got it wrong.

I fully believe a change is happening right now. I think that eventually the church will be one that’s more inclusive. But yesterday I got a glimpse of what that looks like, and it’s the truest reflection of Jesus I’ve seen in a long time.

We need you. It doesn’t matter how much or little you can do, but do something. I don’t want to wait years for church to look this way and the longer it takes, the more people we lose from the church, the more people we isolate.
If this is going to happen, everyone of us needs to be talking and making people think. Nothing changes through silence.

At the beginning I wrote about the poem I wrote this morning. I wrote it because I wanted to show how as humans we get it wrong over and over but how that’s not of God.
When this battles won, there will be more but that doesn’t mean that we should just stand at the sidelines. God created us all to serve. The time we should have been doing that properly was yesterday. Let’s get it right now.

http://www.acceptingevangelicals.org/

Creation equality.

This ones a bit different to my usual blog posts.
I wrote a poem last night after coming back from an amazing and inspiring conference, which I’ll be posting a blog up about this evening.
But for now I thought I’d share the poem.

When man was created out of the dust and the mud
And woman soon after, Adams rib, Gods love.
And as they stood hand in hand
Man and woman, woman and man.
They were both in Gods image,
He didn’t differentiate.
He loved them the same, there was no hate.

But then sin came in, jealousy, anger.
And as people divided, one side shouted louder.
History through out repeated over and over.

People marginalised, one sided bible interpretation.
Until one voice loud enough, shouts out across the nations.
Martin Luther King, stood up and fought slavery.
A part of the bible, returned to former glory.

God made us unique, we were created to serve.
But yet we keep wounding, lessons go unlearned.
We are told to go out and preach the good news.
But instead we isolate because of one sided views.

We miss the hurt etched on the faces
Of those who love God, yet no one embraces.
We refuse to acknowledge their homosexuality.
Because it doesn’t fit our plan for Christianity.

But when God created woman and man
He didn’t differentiate, he had a plan
He knew their hearts, he created them whole.
He knew exactly the words etched onto their souls

So now what we need is to head back to the start.
Back to creation, back to the heart.
One sided views, one sided theology.
When actually God created equality.

Feminism and Christianity

This is something I’ve been wanting to write about for sometime, but actually a topic I struggle to find words for with out just repeating others.

Growing up I wouldn’t have considered myself a feminist. I’m not even sure I knew what the word meant! The closest I ever got was thinking “there is no way on this earth I am burning my bra!” Of course (fortunately for me) being a feminist does not mean bra burning.

I think what actually made me think about feminism in a new light was having two boys.
This probably sounds odd to some, but I found they were limited.
An example of this was when my eldest who has just started his first year at primary school told me that boys can’t cry at school. It breaks my heart that already he is limited by the stereotype of what it means to be male.
Emma Watson really did get it right in her speech to the UN about he HeforShe campaign. Feminism affects us all, both males and females.

I’ve also came to realise other things. If I go out in the evening and dress up, I somehow become dehumanised. It’s acceptable in our culture for men to shout out at me as if the reason I am walking is for their pleasure. I am not human. I am not equal.
It’s ok in a club for men to grab me and try to kiss me. That’s why I’m there. I am not human. I am not equal.

Objectification is what we see all around us. Female celebrities plastered over pages of magazines. There to be drooled over or criticised. They are too fat, too skinny, wear the wrong clothing, look too tired, the list goes on. Is it any wonder then that this continues into our lives?
It’s men that dominate in government and in business. It’s hard to feel respected.

If you think I’m over exaggerating, do an experiment. On a Saturday night, go for a walk along where the clubs and pubs are local to you, and watch how the younger women are treated. It’s as if we are walking on their territory.
Look at the people who have made it to the top and see how dominated it is by males.

Now when reconciling this with Christianity I look right back at Jesus.
He was living in a culture far less informed than we are today. He was living in a culture where women were well and truly second class citizens. In that time period women were considered weak minded and not given any respect with in society.
Jesus may not have been an out right feminist, but how he treated them was with respect. He allowed women to sit with him and be counted them as friends.
When he saved the women about to be stoned for adultery, he didn’t see her as less human.
When he rose from the grave, it was the women he allowed to see him first. Women would not have been as trusted as men in their testimony, but still he choose them.
He was born into a time where he was heavily restricted but yet he still pushed the boundaries.

You see feminism isn’t about trying to be better than men, it isn’t about hating men, and it isn’t about trying to take over.
It’s about respecting that women are capable. It’s about bringing what it means to be male to something that doesn’t mean you can’t display emotion. It’s about everybody being human.

When I’ve written in previous blogs about LGBT, or about changing the attitudes to cultures, races, and disabilities it’s for one reason. We are all human. God made us all unique, with different challenges and emotions.

Feminism is important because it’s very simply recognising the individual and allowing us all to grow as people, with out being hindered by stereo-types.

Culture is always changing, when it comes to human rights it should be us, the church, at the fore front fighting. We can’t afford to be the ones lagging behind.