Sunday, October 23, 2011

Suffer the Little Children

I saw something at church today that I have never seen before.  It's dreadful, really, that this was so out of the ordinary for my religious experience.

What, you may ask, could have engendered such shock? 

It started with newborn twins in the service today.  Yummy, squishy, redfaced newborns in stereo.  That in and of itself was a joy, but it was nothing compared to what happened at the Great Thanksgiving.

When the Celebrant saw them brought to the Communion bench he smiled a grandfatherly smile.  He kindly welcomed them and their mother.  He put his hand gently over each little fuzzy head and blessed them, making a small cross with his thumb on each red wrinkly forehead.  The babies slept through it all, but I was awakened to another vast spiritual chasm between Fundamentalism and true Christianity.

In Fundamentalism, I was not used to seeing men in leadership be gentle.  Preachers usually yell throughout their sermons.  They make rude and obnoxious statements about people who vote Democrat, don't have guns, are gay, etc.  Women are denegrated with inappropriate jokes or, at best, patronized.  Children are maligned by these men as little tyrants with wills to be broken - by force as necessary.  The vulnerable are either ignored or verbally beaten down. Everything is made into a fight.

Yet here was this man gently, humbly, and lovingly treasuring these precious babies.  No hint of roughness.  Not a whisper of antagonism.  As the Great Thanksgiving continued and I approached the bench, the same man gently offered me the Bread with words of comfort.   The man after him who offered the Cup just as gently reminded me that Christ's blood was shed for me and reassured me of God's love.

How did I not realize before that Fundamentalist leaders in no way exemplify the Biblical example?
 "A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people's hearts, and they will learn the truth." - 2 Timothy 2:24-25
Now that I've truly seen it, I can't think of any leader in my old life who could have been characterized as a servant of the Lord.  What a tragedy. May God spare his sheep from such wolves.

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