Saturday, February 6

A New Parable!

"A Sower went out to sow," and as he cast the seed, a wind picked up the holy seed and, while some fell and grew where it was cast, much more was spread on the wind and landed far and wide. Some fell on open ground, some in forests and thickets, and some among tares. As they grew, they came to share one and all in the same semblance, being all of one kind. Each plant grew from seed in the Sower's bag, itself having come from the Sower's own crib and field. Now, as time passed, fences, and even walls, went up, that the plants could not see beyond. They lost touch with their brothers and sisters far away, or even near by, if there were walls blocking the way. They remembered the Sower, and they knew whose plants they were, but since they were not in a great wheat field as intended, they tended to be only conscious of the Sower but not of their fellow stalks. 

As you might expect, the Sower was wise and diligent. Each seed that had come of his hand was just as important to him as any of the others, whether it were growing in the choice field or a forest far away. So wherever the stalks were growing, the Sower would be watching, and making sure they were fed and watered. His helpers were watching all this, and asked why he didn't transplant the stalks back to the home field, and why not weed out the tares, the false wheat, from around the good seed. The seed was scattered, he told them, so that it would produce a better harvest. And the tares were harmful, yes, but they also provided competition to cause the good stalks to grow straighter. He would sort out the tares in good time.

Harvest time came, and the Sower sent out his helpers to bring in the stalks. They harvested the home field, and they went out and brought in all the wheat from the faraway fields and thickets as well. As they were gathered all into the barn, some of the stalks began to complain, that foreign grain was being brought into their barn, and that these "outsiders" were not of "their" lineage. The Sower stood by, quietly listening. When there was a loud enough outcry, with all the stalks of such opinion were voicing their complaint, he directed his helpers, "Go  and remove those tares from among my wheat, and take care to burn them thoroughly, lest any of that bitter seed remain!

This story occurred to me as I was thinking about the way the fellowship among Christians, and the effectiveness of Christ's Church, has been splintered since the Roman bishop decided to "excommunicate" the entire Eastern 4/5 of the Church, and then another Roman bishop, and a Swiss priest, a few hundred years later started the trend of everybody excommunicating everybody.  The Eastern churches seem to have held it together better than most, in terms of keeping things on a "fellowship" level more than a military-style,  "allegiance" scheme, but how does Jesus see it?  How many times does the Bible tell us to build bureaucracies, or judge the Faith according to class membership?  He said to follow Him, and to love one another, to receive His Spirit, and bear witness of His Resurrection and Lordship.  Anything else?


  1. i dig it man!

  2. follow Him, and to love one another, to receive His Spirit, and bear witness of His Resurrection and Lordship... and serve on as many committees as possible including at least two terms on the vestry.

  3. I sense that the people at the ECUSA church I attend don’t accept me. I am not accepted as a vital part of the church. I continue to be passed over for a leadership position there (of any sort), etc., etc., etc., but yet I have continued to attend the same church on a weekly basis, and then I beat myself up over various things associated with it. I don’t understand it. Possibly I need to make the choice for the good of myself and my family and leave. I have fellowshipped with many different churches through the years. Ultimately, after realizing that most churches are nothing more than collections of broken, hurting people who really don’t want to be there, with leadership that for the most part does not want to recognize or deal with the real issues that cause that hurt and brokenness, I may quit attending church completely.

    What I am discovering is that the “church” in America is nothing other than a Sunday morning social engagement for the most part, with people preening and posing, instead of humbly attending and trying to enter into the Father’s presence. True, some may be seeking a deeper relationship with God, or searching for the love and support of a community, but that seems to be the exception rather than the rule, and in my personal experience, they don’t find what they are seeking anyway.

    From what I have seen, church is also divided into two classes of people – the “doers” and the “receivers” (or in some cases, the “haves” and the “have nots”). The “doers” are those who are actively involved in church, providing the services, the logistics, the music, the funding, leading the committees, organizing things, recruiting, running the show, coordinating schedules and activities, and generally doing everything in the background that the general populace (those who do not get involved) does not see. In effect, the doers are the roadies of the church. The “receivers” are those attending church in the hopes of receiving something (ministry, love, grace, forgiveness, guidance, support, community, peace, friendship, etc.), who sit in the pews, attend on Sunday mornings, and then leave when the church service is over. Within the receiver class there are also many sub-classes, such as the ones for whom church is a destination or place to be on Sunday mornings, or the ones who view it as a social obligation, or the ones who feel that they are expected to be in church on Sunday morning, These sub-classes are varied and many, but all fall under the heading of the “receivers” in that they do not typically get very involved, so they don’t tend to see the real inner workings (aka, “the dark side”) of the church.

    All of those committees and such are labeled as “ministries” (i.e., the Music Ministry, the Finance Ministry, the Leadership Ministry, etc.), but in reality they are nothing more than political appointments or positions of power within the hierarchy of the church, ultimately causing people to strive for recognition or budget or headcount or increased responsibility (just like in the business world), participate in politics run rampant, and jockey for position. These are ministries? I think not. Personally, I believe that these type of “ministries” (and yes, I put that word in quotes intentionally) are nothing more than semi-formal or –legal constructs within the church that seems to cover a multitude of sins and allows people to do and say mean and hurtful things all in “the name of Jesus”. People don’t “walk the walk or talk the talk” (myself included), so why should I bother attending someplace that aggravates me instead of invigorates me? It’s easier for me to sit down someplace outside and read the Bible than it is to put on my Sunday morning mask just so that I can attend a so called church.

  4. (part 2) I probably shouldn’t talk about it any further, try to analyze it, try to understand why people there do the things they do that hurt/frustrate me so much, because none of that will change anything. I need to just quit going there. Take a break. A sabbatical, if you will. That may allow me the time I need to step back to reflect/review the situation from a non-engaged perspective, which may then ultimately help me determine what it is that I really want/need to do in the future. I must make a change, take some action, break the ties, sever the relationship.

    The “friendships” that I thought I had developed at that church, which I thought were going to last forever, regardless of whether or not we attended there, were nothing more than “church acquaintances” that evaporated as soon as we left. People said they would call or email. They didn’t. People said we’d get together for lunch. We didn’t. People said that would stay in touch. They didn’t. Even priests and pastors, who told me the same things (after I poured out my heart and story to them, and thought we had connected) let me down. So, why feel any qualms at all about breaking off my personal involvement in any of the mainline denominations?

    When Sunday morning rolls around, I can sleep in, get up slowly, have some time for ourselves, make a nice big breakfast, make some coffee, read the newspaper, and then maybe finally shower and dress and start the day. Compare that with the hecticness of getting up early, getting ready, packing gear, and rushing out the door to get to the church. In my heart and soul, I have a passion for worship, but at some point I have to step back, take a good look at what my involvement is costing personally (in terms of relationships, health, stress, anger, hurt, family issues, etc.) and then decide whether or not it is truly worth it.

    So, I might quit the service that I currently am doing at the Church If I feel that I have to stay at that church, then I may just attend as a parishioner for a while. Sit in a pew and remember what was it about the Episcopal Church specifically that drew me there in the first place and see whether or not it is still there. God allows things to change in our lives, and also lets things become painful or unbearable so that we sometimes have to change something, so perhaps this is what is happening.

    Or perhaps I should attend a completely different church for a while, to get a fresh perspective on things.

    Bottom line, I need to remove myself from the place that hurts and frustrates me, instead of providing support and fellowship, and make a change.

    I hope you understand that what I’ve written here is a direct reflection of my personal experiences and journey. I don’t know yet myself where I may ultimately end up, but can tell you that right now, at this point in my life, I believe that churches in America may not be where I need to be on Sunday mornings.

    Will that ever change? Possibly, I don’t know. A significant change, given how intimately involved and active in church we are, and one that will take some getting used to, to be truthful.

    I must truthfully and honestly evaluate the situation and then make my decision.

    Your other Anonymous said “follow Him, and to love one another, to receive His Spirit, and bear witness of His Resurrection and Lordship...” I completely agree. I will continue to seek fellowship with other Christians, to worship and work together with them, but these things do NOT need to happen in some Western Civilization Sunday Social Club Construct called a church.

  5. My take is NO Answer on this site is certainly an answer of its own my anonymous friend. Go for it!!

  6. As that last "Anonymous" said, I must take your apparent condoning silence on the current resolve of my struggle as a yes, do it, "go for it" as anonymous said. On that reliance, I will quit going to "church" now. Thank you for the Non-Response response.

  7. To the long-writing Anon., please forgive the long pause. You wrote in at a pretty crazy time here. Well, "here," now means Mexico, but between then and now was papers, finals, moving, travel arrangements, fundraising, and personal/family matters as well. From what I'm reading in your (Apr. 29), it sounds like I'm seeing two things. One is that you see needs in your parish that need to be addressed. Could it be that your seeing these things relates to God calling you to get involved in filling those voids & upholding those with a sense of exclusion? The second is in the form of a personal plea: You have sat on this tack for a long time, and it is showing signs of festering. In an Episcopal / Anglican parish the "power seats" you mentioned are filled by general election or by (always needed) volunteers. In some Protestant churches this is not the case. So, as well as I can see from your writing, the answer is not to retreat from the church even in what may seem like a small step, but to recommit your heart and life to the Lord of the Church and to remember the words which St. Francis heard at San Damiano: "Build up my Church, which, as you see, is falling down." One poor man, not even owning the rags he died in, led a renewal movement which the world has never forgotten. Why not us?


So what's your take?