Christmas makes me nostalgic of simpler times, innocent times.
Born and raised in a Christian home, I remember much of my childhood years spent at church, doing church “things” from Sunday school to services, to choir, to youth groups. It was like a second home and family. Then I grew up.
I began to receive “advice” from church elders of how a young woman ought to be, I encountered the restrictions placed on women’s participation, I was exposed to church doctrines which demanded obedience.
While most were well-intentioned, all spoke of conforming to a patriarchal tradition, and this within a conservative culture. I had questions which were never adequately answered. Love, it seemed, was conditional on my subservience without question.
As years passed, my conviction of gender equality grew, and I sought humble acknowledgements from the clergy of the vulnerability of the fabric of Christian church, vulnerability which demonstrates love, humility and compassion with which it seeks to encompass its followers. That did not come to pass. So I moved away.
In recent years, I have encountered many Christians, people of the faith though not necessarily of the Church. Divine intervention? 🙂 These Christians friends in their own ways demonstrated the humanity that I had expected from the Church.
So here comes Christmas yet again, and the fond memories of carol singing and celebrations, and community service return. I am reminiscing about shared experiences, of dedicated service, of belonging. There was much joy and laughter. After all, the message of Christmas is one of love, humility and compassion.
Perhaps age has mellowed me. I am certainly less fretful of the dogma of the institution called the Church.
Perhaps I am less caught up with politics of religion and the world at large. Choosing instead to be thankful for the connection and belonging that was the church of the people. To look back at those days with less criticism and more grace.
Perhaps I am finally bold enough to stand up to the ab-use of power and mindless practice, and be with those who chose to walk with the spirit. Perhaps I am wiser and able to hold light and shadow, and not be daunted.
Perhaps that is why I have not eschewed the moniker of Christian.
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