I actually woke up at 7:43am this morning, but was lazy and didn't get up until 8:44am.
Conversation with alixtii last night prompted me thinking yet again about how I am so not committed to this Christianity thing. I was actually feeling this morning, "I don't care if there's reasonable historical evidence for the Resurrection," ["if" as conditional, not a statement that I have found a compelling evidential argument -- I've been wanting a definitive answer to whether such an argument exists for quite some time -- but rather that even if I were to be presented with such an argument I don't care] that I feel no desire to be a part of this, that I actually don't want to be a part of it. Christianity has been an intellectual endeavor for me for some years now (though never to the extent I wish it were, because I am lazy etc.) and a recurrent theme is "I wish I weren't so attached to this tradition, because there are so many problematics," but some months back [I know I LJed it, but can't think of sufficient context to hunt it down] I had a moment of feeling free from that attachment and it was this bizarre feeling. It passed, of course. So at least this time I have a point of comparison. The first time was a sense of detachment, but this time had more hostility. I'm not really sure where that came from. Certainly Alixtii's reply to my comment [which I still need to write a reply to] triggered my Boo on religious ceremony, but I come from a low church tradition so I've always been able to engage with theology separate from liturgy and my hostility to ceremony doesn't actually translate into a hostility to religious belief. I am now of course expecting this hostile feeling to pass as happened the last time, but I also know that a lack of faith is where my trajectory has been headed (and arguably where I have been abiding) because I am so a rational and logical person, and I have long admitted that my belief in God makes me feel better and is thus v. useful to me (though I've recently begun feeling troubled that I'm using it as a faithless cop-out -- which is in no way intended to imply that all who believe in a Higher Power/s without the structure of an organized religion are cop-outs, merely an assessment of where I personally am at). I draw from Christianity as I find it useful to me, but nothing beyond my belief in an Omniscient Omnipotent Omnibenevolent Creator has connected with me on a personal daily life basis (and even the God thing is probably up for debate given what an inner-directed stubborn self-sufficient person I am).
I have refused to identify myself as Christian for quite some time, but the prospect of definitively not identifying myself as such (rather than the nebulous faith struggle or whatever that I can cast myself in currently) makes me sad, because it distances me from many people I care very much about [not that we would cease to be friends or anything, but it gives us less common ground and makes me an active disbeliever in something which is very important to them] and because it deprives me of one position from which to be an actual rather than a hypothetical witness/Devil's Advocate (the whole "See, Christians can be...," "See, Christians are not always...," etc.; one of the most cherished things anyone has ever said to me -- though now I can't lay my hands on it -- was offbalance saying something along the lines of how through my example she saw that contrary to her previous experience Christians could actually be good thoughtful people).
I had the "Christ is risen." / "He is risen indeed." responsive stuck in my head walking to church. This was actually never used during the service, though the bulletin did end with an "Alleluia! He is alive!" graphic. (I saw United's bulletin later, and it was white-text "Rejoice! Christ The Lord Is Risen." on purple background with white flowers and a trumpet.)
Just when I thought"And the darkness has not overcome it" always makes me think of you :)
there would be no more light
in the Jerusalem sky
the Bright and Morning Star
and the darkness has not overcome it.
-Ann Weems, "Easter"
I came in about five minutes of and I think it was even more crowded than last Sunday, but there was a seat next to Beth (in front of Mrs. Macleay so I even sat in my usual geographic position) so that was good. Pastor Hamilton cracked, "To any of you who are newcomers, I apologize; there are usually more people here." And later, "I won't see most of you until next year, so let's make the most of it."
He talked about sunrise service, said the sun came out just as Communion was being served, wish you had all been there - so you would know what it feels like to have been up since 4:30 in the morning.
Before the Responsive Call to Worship, the reader announced: All who are able, please stand. This is written in the bulletin but no one ever says it out loud, so this made me happy.
Responsive Call to Worship:
Rise and greet the morning!
Cast off your sleep and doubt.
Arise, meet the risen Christ!
Who comforts our grieving hearts.
See: the stone is rolled away!
For the tomb cannot contain him.
Arise and greet the risen Christ!
We rise and sing our praise!
Processional Hymn: Christ the Lord is Risen Today
I actually really like this hymn.
Pastor Hamilton talked about how Yale chaplain William Sloane Coffin died this week, and how he'd been listening to Terry Gross talk about him, and the idea that courage is the first of all virtues (because it is required to do any of the virtues).
Unison Prayer of Confession:
Redeeming God, we know you can bring new life out of dead ends, draw hope out of despair, heal hearts that have been broken. We have seen, and believed. And yet, in our dark hours, we return to doubt. We gasp for hope in airless tombs of our own making – when simple faith can roll away the stone. Our doubt is all-too-human; your love, divine. Today, yes, we ask for forgiveness; but more importantly, for courage. Courage to make the leap to believe that life is, always and everywhere, precious and good. And in believing life is precious and good, we know you will fill our hearts with compassion, you will free us from worry, you will be in our actions. Amen.
The "We have seen, and believed" bit troubles me, but I adore the "We gasp for hope in airless tombs of our own making – when simple faith can roll away the stone."
Anthem: Since by Man Came Death (from Handel's Messiah)
I almost couldn't make out the words at all.
Reception of New Members
15 of them!
Pastor Hamilton said a little something about each of them, and it felt very personal and informal and just very enjoyable. He talked about the "ministry of coffee" (i.e. conversations outside of the structures) he values so much. (Yes, his coffee Thing makes me think of you.)
Before the Congregation Welcome there was a spoken "those who are able, please stand." Again with the love.
The new members each got a yellow rose (friendship), a certificate, and, "the most coveted item: name tags."
Scripture: Mark 16.1-8
Message: "Go To Galilee"
Pastor Hamilton opened with complaints about this ending, which bugged me (since I didn't share all his complaints) though as he transitioned into the next part of the sermon I realized it was done as a hook, which made it a bit better.
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
-from Little Gidding - V (in Four Quartets by T. S. Eliot)
He talked about how death is the most ordinary thing -- that it's the one thing he can guarantee we will all experience; talked about how at first it seems extraordinary (we are overwhelmed by grief, etc.) but that the real sting of death is in the ordinary afterward (happening upon something that reminds us of the dead person, reaching to tell the person something and realizing they are no longer here, etc.).
Near the end of the sermon, Pastor Hamilton said, "If you have come to find Jesus, I am sorry but he is not here -- he is loose in the world."
With all the new member stuff, the sermon didn't start until somewhere between twenty of and quarter of, but it was over by eleven. Rock.
Before the offering, the lay reader said the ushers would now come forward to "accept the morning offering." Love that phrasing. Usually it's "receive the morning offering," which I also enjoy (in contrast to the more active verbs one sometimes hears, like "take") but "accept" is now my favorite.
Offertory: Joy in the Morning
Recessional Hymn: Crown Him With Many Crowns
Passing of the Peace
(Which didn't take as long as I had feared it might -- Pastor Hamilton was walking up the aisle, and I was afraid he was gonna try to shake hands with practically everybody, but he turned back before he even got to my pew.)
Benediction: Now Thanks be to God (Handel's Messiah)
Much better than the previous Messiah piece.
Postlude: The Trumpet Shall Sound
The congregation is asked to remain seated during the postlude.
[We were still standing when I thought it was time for the Postlude so I was confused, and then someone in the congregation reminded Pastor Hamilton that the congregation is supposed to sit down for the Postlude, so he added that to his remarks, and it made me so happy that someone had read the program and knew what was (supposed to be) going on.]
The Prayer Concerns insert ends "All those dealing with childbearing, domestic violence, employment and relationship issues as well as members of the armed services constantly exposed to danger," which made me happy (though hello, serial commas?).
Saw Kristin Z. in the receiving line, which was bizarre. (We graduated NHS the same year and now each other only because of alphabetical proximity.) She chatted with Gretchen's mom and Mrs. Macleay so I got to hear about what she's doing (which stalker information-ho me always enjoys). She didn't notice me and I didn't interject myself 'cause what was I gonna say?
And I got a receiving line hug. I will miss this.
My mom was getting out the ham to cook for Easter dinner (2pm) and I recalled how lamb is the traditional Easter dinner meat and was struck by how strange it was to eat lamb on the day that Christ (the Lamb) triumphed over death.
And oh my grandmother does not help my mood. Inanity and complaints. (Begging for silence feels weird when I am lamenting the lack of debate engagement on LJ, but really it comes down to wanting quality talk.) And of course how everything is secular.
Peggy always joins us for Easter dinner and my grandma was warning us that Peggy really can't hear well, so I was filled with dread, but in fact it was fine. So long as she's facing you she seems to be fine. And she participated in and initiated conversational topics. My grandmother, on the other hand, would at times start to say something not realizing someone else was talking, and at least once asked Peggy to repeat something 'cause she didn't hear. Gee, do we think my grandma was projecting? When Peggy left, she didn't react at all to anything said from behind her, so clearly she does have poor hearing, but you wouldn't know it in normal conversation provided you're careful to speak to her face and make sure you have her attention. And she has actual valid conversation.
We had one of the bottles of Riesling -- Chateau Ste. Michelle (Columbia Valley, 2004). I was nearly at the end of my glass when I realized I hadn't really tasted it. Guess it was good then ;) I also realized I probably shouldn't have drunk it that fast, and then thought, "Hey, maybe being not quite sober for this is better." Except of course that when I get inebriated I just feel somewhat detached from my body, not any happier or less easily aggravated or anything. If anything I get more withdrawn, and I feel nervous if I have to navigate complicated physical stuff (like getting to a T Station in Boston -- she says from experience) because I don't quite feel in my body. But as I said, conversation turned out to be fine. And later I helped my mom finish off the bottle and actively tasted it and indeed it was good.
So now I'm off to catch up on LJ. Am not in a particularly negative mood, but I make no promises, 'cause dude, it's me.