Wilmot United Church is at the crossroad of King and Carleton, right in the centre of the city. There is no lawn, very little parking, and no room to expand. A while ago, there was talk of selling the church and moving to the suburbs. Our membership was dwindling and there were very few young people, but a series of excellent ministers, the decision to make them into a team ministry, one radical minister, and two women attracted young ardent people. It helped too that the competing United Church hired a fundamental, right-wing minister who drove many of his congregation into our arms.
One Sunday a few weeks ago, there was no room for me downstairs, and I had to go into the balcony. I sat in the second row on the side, and a mother with two active boys, perhaps 6 and 4, sat in front of me. The mother let her 6 year old climb under the railing and into the middle section, and then back, risking a fall of perhaps 30 feet. The 4 year old jumped up and down as if to vault over the railing. A terrifying worship service. I had a momentary desire for the good old days when there was plenty of room downstairs and no children.
When I started attending Wilmot, the minister at that time had a nasal voice, as if he needed to blow his nose. His sermons were uninspired. The music was insipid. After a year I decided I didn’t believe in the trinity and left to attend the Unitarians. A year ago someone told me that often the minister was weeping in the pulpit because his wife was having an affair. This accounted for the need to blow his nose. I felt very bad that I had not been understanding. I am too judgmental, a terrible trait and a bad habit. Resolutions to be better are not enough to conquer this addiction.
I yearn to be perfect. I know I could kiss a leper, like the saints of old did, but I can’t curb my grumpiness. However, I don’t attend church because it will help me become perfect, for I know it won’t, anymore than it will cure my arthritis. I don’t even know why I attend. Attending does punctuate the week and give it order. And there is always the tempting possibility that God will indeed honour us with his presence one day.