December 06, 2005

Walking Away from Church

I left church this cold morning and walked south down Pacific Avenue, past rice fields lying dormant for the winter. I started thinking about all the stories people have shared with me about their lives. When I was in seminary, I remember hearing someone say, "Everyone has a story. Everyone." At the time, I couldn't imagine that being true. Now I can't imagine it not being true. It's just that, too often, those stories are kept locked away, hidden from all but a very select few.

I crossed the railroad tracks and kept walking toward the high school. It's amazing how a walk warms a person up, even on a day that began with the ground covered with frost. I began to wonder if, sometimes, God takes a walk away from church, just like this. People come to church to find God, but what if God is in those stories that the people leave at home? Church is, more often then not, all handshakes and smiles, but what if God is left in the quiet of the bedroom where tears are shed?

At the high school, I turned right and headed east on Nicolaus Avenue, past more rice fields. The frost was long gone, though I could still see my breath. And I wondered (as I wandered): when I return to church later today, and when we gather there Sunday morning, will we bring God with us?

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