Wednesday, December 27, 2006

More Tracing

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.


Peter said...

Hello NR. A few observations-- United Church of Canada worship is, in general, a lot less enthusiastic and {gulp} interesting than you might well have found south of the border.

Also, a minister is not supposed to be emotionally hemoraging in the pulpit. He or she is there to minister to the people, and if the minster needs ministering to, it's to be found elsewhere (Fredericton being a city, the minister had pretty good odds of finding someone who could minister to him; those in rural churches are much less lucky).

That said, he may have been in a congregation that expected an Iron Man, or traditional minister who was to carry on regardless--not that that's a good idea. Life crises, after all, are what leaves of absence are for, but they're only as good as they're used.

I am saying all this because while God may agree with you about your being intolerant, I can find plenty of wiggle room there in your description.

And if the experience you've mentionned helps your discernment in such matters, the whole thing is well redeemed.

FWIW, I have presided at a Unitarian service, and attended 3 of them. I've decided that going to a place where my faith stance isn't welcome isn't worth the candle, even though some of my best friends, etc.

Zhoen said...

Human institutions for humans by humans. I was lead to believe there was more, and the disappointment drove me away. Well, that and the unutterable boredom.

bloglily said...

Hello Nancy -- I love these tracings and the way they come from the physical description of your church, which sounds like a beautiful place. Happy New Year to you. I'm so looking forward to more stories and posts from you. Warm regards, Lily