Church along our walk in Cabbagetown,
a neighborhood of Atlanta.
“In your dreams,” you might be saying in response to this post’s title. And that’s exactly where I found it: in my dreams.
The morning I write this I awoke from a warm and friendly dream of being “courted” by a small but vibrant congregation who wanted me as their pastor.
Many of the churches I have been a part of throughout my life, either as member or minister, have been troubled. Three challenging congregations “in transition” as they say, had attributes that made me love them, but to counter their darker sides with humor, I associated them, more or less privately, with classic films or a television series.
In one I saw parallels to director George Cukor’s 1939 comedy-drama, The Women, based on a Clare Boothe play—a film filled with gossip, rivalries, jealousies, sniping, betrayals, as well as fierce loyalties.
Serving a congregation in which I followed an extremely popular pastor, I felt like the second and less attractive and stylish and poised wife of Laurence Olivier in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca (1940), Daphne du Maurier’s Gothic tale, replete with mystery, dark secrets, homoerotic longings, and nostalgia for a lost grand past.
Another church was so full of surprises that I saw a parallel to a TV series I was watching at the time, 24 (starring Kiefer Sutherland), a series with continual twists and turns and revelations. As with the series, each week in this congregation I’d be amazed and disturbed, and say, “I didn’t see that coming.”
I have been a guest speaker for a number of congregations that seemed, on a visit, welcoming and healthy. Though churches put on their best face for visitors, I usually can discern trouble by speaking with a congregation’s leaders and members, or the hosts who have welcomed me to stay in their homes. So healthy and happy congregations are out there.
It was this kind of congregation I dreamed about. Granted, it may have been my brain attempting to balance the very negative dream the night before about a presbytery meeting gone awry and vicious!
On further reflection, however, I realized the dream was not just a wish but a reality. That week I’d received a number of positive responses to this blog, whose readership is the largest congregation I’ve ever served!
And there are no board meetings, no committees, no commute, little overhead, no buildings or plans to build one, no bills, no pledge drive, no dress code, no conflict among members, no begging for volunteers—the list goes on and benefits both you and me. (Of course it also means this ministry realizes very little income—apparently those things are what churchgoers are paying for!)
Without complaint, I can get political, critique or reinterpret Christian tenets, explore other religions, read and talk about spirituality and the contemplative life (you’d be surprised how many churchgoers don’t like that!), and be as queer as I choose to be—not to say I don’t wonder “was it something I said?” that prompts someone to “unsubscribe” or attendance to go down. You, the reader, always have the option to skip or delete, read or respond or share my thoughts.
I miss face-to-face encounters, but sometimes e-mail exchanges are more intimate and profound and informative than the usual chit-chat during coffee hour, and they come from all over the world. And I supplement this blog community—as I hope that you do—with other people, communities, causes, and conversations.
A good thing about calling this “Progressive Christian Reflections” is that I can be as progressive as I want to be, as Christian as I am, and offer my reflections to you in the hopes they spark your own. And I am grateful I can do this under the auspices of MCC, Metropolitan Community Churches, as one of the denomination’s Emerging Ministries.
So, no wonder it’s a dream job. Thanks for reading!
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Copyright © 2017 by Chris R. Glaser. Permission granted for non-profit use with attribution of author and blogsite. Other rights reserved.