process of supporting a statement by evidence.
A Christian rite conferring the gift of the Holy Spirit and
among Protestants full church membership.
Memories are etched into our minds through
strong emotional stimulus like joy, fear, and expectation, and through sensory
perceptions like smells, sounds, and touch.
They are triggered when we least expect it. From the time I snuggled with my grandmother
till the sixth grade I don’t remember anything about church. But the sixth grade must have been a defining
moment for my parents, their need for me to become a part of something otherly.
Confirmation classes were the indoctrination
of young minds into the faith of their parents.
They were weekly meetings to instruct us on the nature of God and the
disciplines of the faithful. Yet, their
content has long been forgotten, save one.
Each confirmation class was given
a tour of the “sanctuary.”
Most Methodist sanctuaries were built the
same, the narthex, the nave and the chancel.
In a modest way they were built with high ceilings to inspire awe in the
worshipper. The raised platform at the
chancel elevated the preaching of the word of God, and its easterly direction
faced toward Jerusalem and symbolized the resurrection. As the pastor continued in his obvious
delight in describing the symbolic nature of the church, only one thing caught
A curtain hung high on the wall behind the
preacher’s pulpit. I had seen it before
and wondered what lay behind it, what secret was hidden behind its heavy thick
construction? As we walked from the back
of the nave toward the chancel it seemed as if the curtain became larger and
more ominous. My imagination conjured up
many scenarios, but only one of them could be true, and in the context of our
tour I was certain that behind that curtain Jesus hung on the cross.
We were on holy ground; we were walking toward the great
mystery of our time; we were being initiated into the church and shown its
greatest triumph. The pastor sat us in
the front row and wrapped up his tour, and to my consternation hadn’t revealed
what was of utmost importance. “Are
there any questions?” he asked.
I sheepishly raised my hand and quarried as to what was
behind the curtain. He turned and
stepped into the chancel. My heart was
pounding as he took hold of that most sacred curtain and when he pulled it back
my heart stopped. I didn’t understand. Where was the cross? Where was the man who was supposed to be hung
on it? All that was there were the
speakers to the organ, tastefully covered by an ordinary curtain.
Fear, awe, expectation, and disappoint are strong emotions
that have etched that memory into my mind.
It left a sour taste in my mouth toward those who held the mysteries of
the faith. I saw the absence of the
cross and the Christ as a failure on their part to provide the tangible
evidence of all that they taught. My sixth grade mind couldn’t comprehend what
Jesus had told his disciple Thomas, “Blessed are they who did not see, and yet
believed,” or what the Apostle Peter
instructed, “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not
see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and
full of glory.” This, however, is not
why I Hate Church. I’m just saying…