Well, we are home today. It seems that we are back at square one with finding a church. We have been attending a local church since New Years and while we have been blessed by being there for the most part - we seem to have come to an impasse. The pastor said last week that you could not teach in that church unless you had a 100% abstinence stand in regards to alcohol. I know it may sound like a silly reason to decide you can no longer attend the church - and if it was just that we disagreed with the pastor on this issue, it would be no big deal. But I won't be false, and I don't intend to attend a church where I cannot be an active participant in ministering to the body. I would certainly not teach the youth that they should drink (I do believe that there are benefits to abstinence - although not Biblically mandated - with all things being permissible in moderation), and I would never contradict the beliefs or the teachings of the church in regards to my differing beliefs. What was most unsettling is that I know the information about my thinking on the issue was obtained voyeuristically by reading my blog - and then the current sermon series was interrupted - while we were held captive audience while point for point the entire content of what I posted on my blog was addressed. (Including comments about "never knowing someone to eat chocolate cake and kill someone" and "be careful what you post on your blog and your myspace".)
The pastor erred in not discussing the issue with me personally - not so that we could debate but in order to let me know where he was coming from. This is one place where putting yourself and your thoughts and your feelings out there on your blog can become a sticky situation. But this is my blog - a place for me to write what I am thinking and feeling. I am trying to understand why this is such a big issue for the community here. A discussion with someone who has lived here a while may have been helpful in achieving this understanding. But I had another huge alarm bell go off when the sermon last week concluded with the statement that the issue wasn't "debatable" or "up for discussion". I certainly would not disrespect a pastor by debating an issue with him, however, anytime someone in authority in a church will not discuss an issue, and stand as the be-all, end-all, final authority on God's word, it should alarm you. The pastors I have most respected are the ones that allowed you to talk to them, encouraged you to saturate yourself in God's word, and know what you believe because His word tells you, and not because someone tells you that this is what they've decided God's word says, the end.
I hate the idea of visiting churches again, however, we will be traveling for a couple of weeks, and I pray that God will use this time to refresh us while we visit a church I know I could fully belong to while we are away. We are also going to get to visit our friends who are back in the states from Romania, Karen and her family on our way through their state! It will be such a treat to get to see them again - even if it will be just for dinner and an overnighter. Can you believe that her parents are gracious enough to have me and five kids stay overnight at their home? They have already blessed me!
Um, yeah, I had better get off the internet and get packing! Yikes!