Church Write-Up: Living in the Past and Moving On

The pastor at one of the churches that I attended spoke about some issues that had been in my mind earlier that week.  They included dwelling in the past, and the fears that result from remembering past experiences.  That was a struggle for me last week.  I told myself that I should forget the past and move on.  That is good advice: focus on the now, not the past.  But the me now has some of the same flaws as the me then, so I fear having some of the same negative experiences.

I’m not sure if there is an easy fix to that.  Not to be flippant, but, just to cite an example, I think of times when I came across as a dork to others, so I fear coming across as a dork to others now and in the future!

The pastor was making interesting points about God.  He was saying that, if we have God in our life, and God wants us to reconcile with others, then God will prepare the way for that by softening the heart of the other person.  I do not know if that is an absolute, but I can picture God doing something like that, at least sometimes.  That does provide a reassuring feeling: not being alone.

The pastor was telling the story of a woman who saw one of the church’s service projects and joined in, and a week later she was baptized.  Now, she organizes lunchtime church services for people who miss church because they work the graveyard shift.  (That is not to say that the church meets during the graveyard shift, but probably that people work until morning and thus go to bed when they get home, rather than going to morning church services.)  That helps other people, and she gets the satisfaction of performing a service.

Service does not have to be grandiose, but it can get one out of oneself.  One fear that I have, based on past experiences, is churches not being particularly hospitable towards those who are different.  You would think that they would be.  Churches like to advertise themselves as such.  But people are people, even in churches.

I have experienced the opposite, though.  At another church service that I attended that morning, a couple was moving.  Their service at the church was appreciated and considered valuable.  The pastor’s eyes were tearing up as he wished them well, and the pastor’s wife hugged them.  That experience was not foreign to me as I watched it.

Anyway, those are some scattered musings.

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About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. I study the History of Biblical Interpretation at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio, as part of its Ph.D. program. I have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting.
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