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Last Sunday before Advent/Winter Solstice

David, my partner, thought I ought to go to church today. So I did.

I wished I hadn’t.

It was like a bad episode of “the Vicar of Dibley”. And the music was a complete farce; one of the hymns was an upbeat “modern” hymn that no-one actually knew the words or music to, and the two halves of the second verse of “O LittleTown of Bethlehem” were round the wrong way. Half the congregation sang what was on the projector whilst everyone else sang the correct version, and it was a complete dog’s breakfast. And some idiot thought it would be a good idea to let off party poppers and drop balloons from the upper balcony – cue several terrified babies screaming and various small children crying because either they didn’t get a balloon, or they got one and it popped.

Half-way through I started feeling ill and light-headed, and Freda started playing up (which in itself is unusual), which doubtless was contributing to my negative impressions. By the time the service was over, I was in no mood to chat or hang around for coffee; Kit, Freda and I just came straight home.

I shouldn’t have gone. It was an uncomfortable experience that did nothing to dispel the current feeling I have that I just don’t belong there.

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About arkadyrose

Genderqueer artist, singer, musician, writer, tailor, mead-mazer and doll crafter living in Walthamstow, NE London. Periodically develop obsessions with various topics; currently it's Paganini, previously Ancient Greece and Alexander the Great, but also fascinated by Ancient Egypt and Romano-British culture. Christo-Pagan.

Discussion

4 thoughts on “Last Sunday before Advent/Winter Solstice

  1. Oh poor you Arkady, so sorry the service did not help you. Will ponder your thoughts and comments. And feeling ill into the bargain, as you say, may not have helped. Just to say we value your presence in and out of church, that’s not to minimise your thoughts and feelings, but just a bit of electronic love from your friends at St Mary’s! Hope the ill-feeling dispelled and that Christmas will be life-giving in some way (ps. definitely no balloons on Christmas Eve!).

    Posted by Simon Heathfield | Monday, December 22, 2008, 1:51 pm
  2. My dear,
    how sorry I am that the confusion has come again. I knew it would be a difficult road for you to stay on the Christian path, and I am aware of how much the other spirituality seeks to draw back those who have moved away, even to the giving of ‘signs’.
    It looks to me like the depression has had quite a bit to do with how you have been feeling, and to also feel out of kilter with the church community hasn’t helped at all. As someone who has gone through a lot of rubbish from churchgoers too, I know full well what it is like to feel like I don’t belong — “what am I doing here? If this is Christianity I don’t fit!!” In my own case however I have always clung to Jesus and he has always held onto me.
    As I have gradually remembered the grotty childhood stuff which has put my family at odds with me ( They just don’t believe anything happened), Jesus has been the only one I could rely on.
    Maybe that won’t be a help to you, I don’t know if anything I can say will be a help, but I do want you to know that no matter what I still think Fondly of you and will continue to pray for God’s protection for you and Freda against anything that would want to cause you or her any harm. That may sound far-fetched but I am used to dealing with opposing spiritual forces and they are not very nice, though wanting to appear so to those who don’t see their true likeness.
    I hope you will actually try talking to the true Lord Jesus in person rather than going through rosary beads etc, it is with Him that we need to have a personal relationship.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you. God bless you and keep you.
    Your loving mother in Christ

    Helen

    Posted by Helen | Tuesday, December 23, 2008, 12:10 pm
  3. Dear Arkady

    Not being in the habit of blogs, I have never read yours until Elizabeth told me about it yesterday. I was saddened by it, but also recognised a surprising amount of it. You have shared quite a bit of your story with me, and I was honoured by your confidence, but aware we have not taken time to get to know each other better. We should, and I hope it is not too late.

    I do not share your pagan background, and although there have been long stretches of my life when I have pushed Jesus to the back of my mind and lived a secular lifestyle, I always knew he was there. Unlike you, I got no “sign” that I should go to the church, just a quiet but relentless little voice in the back of my mind telling me that I could not ignore this forever. But I understand – o so well!! – the discomfort with some of the services at St Marys. I tend to avoid the main service because the music can be so bad, and also because I feel it hard to concentrate with the hoards of children. The evening service is quiet and a bit more intimate, and the music is sometimes bad, but when it’s good, it’s great. The team there have to cater for a very wide range of tastes and preferences and age groups, and its not surprising that some of it jars. But then Tony plays Elvis, and all is forgiven!

    But it is hard sometimes to really connect with people there. Everyone is friendly, but sometimes I feel that it is superficial. But then I think, what effort do I make either? Not as much as I should. I turn up sometimes, but like you I am shy, and like you I have a certain veneer of confidence but find it hard to talk about myself, and you can’t have a very meaningful conversation in the margins of a church service. For me, my job is also a problem, both because I can’t often commit to times (I’d love to join the bell ringers or the choir, but I feel I would have to turn up fairly regularly, and I know that’s just not going to happen – at least the Bakers are very understanding when I don’t turn up yet again cos I am still at the office), and also because I can’t talk much about what I do, except that I give legal advice about how to wage war and stay within the rules, which doesn’t sound very nice, or very socially responsible. No, we won’t build relationships by going to church services. We have to make the effort elsewhere, and that is part of what the small groups are about, but I don’t think that’s the whole answer. And I think that you and I, and many others, desperately need Christian friends, to talk through our doubts, and support us against a very non-Christian society. You are surrounded by pagans and humanists and atheists. I just have the humanists and the atheists, but they are hard enough work. I understand that some Christians deal with this problem by escaping into a little Christian bubble community and ignoring the outsiders, and obviously that’s not the answer either, but we must be there for each other, not just brush past each other briefly on Sunday.

    I also recognised the depression part, having struggled with that in younger years. I think and hope that it will not strike me again, I have been free of it for some years now, but I remember very well sitting at the bottom of a black pit in my mind, for months, able to function only because of prescription drugs. I can’t write of that here, but would welcome the chance to share that story with you. I realise now that depression is very common, but most of us never even mention it, because of the stigma.

    If you don’t feel like coming back to St Mary’s at the moment, I hope you will at least get in contact (I would call but I don’t have your number – mine is [edited out]). I will be thinking of you and praying for you.

    Best wishes
    Louise

    Posted by Louise Symons | Friday, January 9, 2009, 10:15 am

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