When I was in high school, I went out a couple of times with the best looking girl in town. I’m not kidding. She had a pretty face and a figure that turned adolescent boys into stammering, drooling fools. When the news hit that I was going out with her, the guys had new respect for me. “Have a GREAT time,” several said to me with a wink.
We went out twice. And we had a nice time because we liked each other.
But there was no spark. No chemistry. No electricity. No nuthin’.
She may have been built like a brick sanctuary, but I might as well have been in church with my great aunt Flossie.
So with nothing but good wishes, we went our separate ways.
A year or so later, I met my wife (who is still hot three decades later). I could not, did not, and do not now keep my hands off her. She can still make the temperature rise enough to singe my clerical collar.
I’ve lost my train of thought.
O yeah. I was going for a metaphor.
I’ve felt quite passionately for some churches in my past. One or two churches were colder than a wet blanket in winter time. And there was one that I had a passionate longing to get away from.
One of my early churches was very old. I should have just visited them in their living rooms, sat with them when they were sick, and preached soothing sermons. But I was young and fiery and I didn’t want an old maid of a church—I wanted a hot mistress.
Right, too much with the imagery.
The point is they couldn’t be young and energetic for me. They were old and tired. I should have accepted them, or moved on.
I moved on. No hard feelings, we just weren’t a match.
Then I worked with one church that really was like a hot romance, with enough drama and crises to keep any adrenalin addicted preacher happy. I loved the work, and I loved them with great passion. They broke my heart several times—and there’s lots of stories about those times that I’ll get to. But then my health broke and I went into a slowly spiraling depression—and that’s another story.
There have been other churches. My last one was very sweet and a good match for my personality and my age. I miss them very much and I wish I were still there.
But I moved up. And the church I am with now is every bit as attractive as the gorgeous young lady I dated a couple of times in high school. Other preachers are envious of me and with good reason. There are no major problems that I can tell. New building. Enough money. Growing community.
But something is wrong.
I don’t love these people. They don't love me either. We’re mostly nice to each other but there’s no spark. They grieve for their last minister and I grieve for my last church. Even though we all agree there’s no reversing history, it’s hard moving on.
Could we learn to love each other? Don’t we just need a little time? Maybe, and I’m willing to keep trying if they are.
I don’t want to go back to the exciting, dysfunctional church of my younger days. But I need more than to just sort of like the one I’m with now.
I could also stand to have a couple of real friends in this new place. Which is probably another entry.