I love the people. Last night's sermon was great. And it was scholarly. It's not available online yet but it will be. Last week's sermon is available and I can highly recommend listening to it on the MCC Newcastle website. I love that community of faith and am inspired by people there and have a better life as a result of knowing them.
But being in the service hurt. Like being repeatedly stabbed or punched in the heart and head. It's not the people, not the tunes, not the loving family that the church feels like. It's me. It's my vastly changing faith. A faith that is still changing and developing.
I think the problem is that for so many years I loved the liturgy. I loved the doctrine. I loved the story. I loved the salvation tale. The story told me what I wanted to hear. For twenty years I built my life around the story, embracing the tale of my fallenness and of a purpose for this sinner who didn't deserve it.
I loved my faith. At times I was obsessive about my faith. There were times I could pray for hours. Times I'd be at church an hour before services, sometimes even waiting outside until the doors were unlocked. Times I'd spend that hour in silence - especially in my Catholic years, praying, knelt before the Blessed Sacrament, enjoying the peace and seeking a particular version of God in the peace.
I loved my faith. Wild, desperate love.
And now I do not have that faith.
And so the liturgy, the prayers and the songs hurt as they are said and sung.
A song last night included the line "I'll never know how much it cost too see my sin upon that cross."
I used to love that line. My sin. Dealt with. Nailed to the cross with a dying saviour. I would be lost in wonder and worship of Jesus at the thought that because of him my existence wasn't hopeless, damned. Because of him I could be set free from darkness - from myself, from my flesh - and walk in light and be transformed into his holy way with lashings of theosis, repentance, and reliance of his strength. I could look at Jesus, dying for me, and fall before him for taking the eternal punishment I justly deserved because of my sins. I could look at Jesus and trust that he would lead me to eternal happiness.
I loved that line. But now? No.
Why not? That's something for me to write about at some length in the following post. I've split it in too because I find I typed about 1,800 words - which seems a bit much for anyone to read in one sitting. It seems a bit much to think that anyone will have the patience or interest to read it at all.
I plan to visit the Cathedral tomorrow with a camera so some time soon there may be a blog post of only a few words and several pictures. Hoorah!