The Saturday In-Between

There is an awkward Saturday situated in-between Easter Sunday and Good Friday. In previous years I’ve greatly associated with Easter, or I’ve greatly associated with Good Friday, but this year I’m strangely content to relate most to the Saturday in-between the two big events.

A church I attended once referred to it as ‘dark Saturday’ which I think fits. It is the day after the crucifixion, the day where all of Jesus’ followers would be in mourning. I think along with the mourning they probably asked, “what’s next?” The man they’d followed for years, a man who had performed miracles, healed the sick, and cared for the poor, who promised them heaven and for God to be restored as king, was dead. Crucified at the hands of the Romans. Their Messiah, the chosen one, was gone and I imagine their faith was probably at a standstill.

After all, when your everything ended up hung on a cross and killed for the public to see, it might be hard to imagine moving forward.

They didn’t know that Easter would come the next day. They were oblivious to the fact that the stone would be rolled away, the tomb would be empty, and they would have the chance at new life. Jesus would resurrect and a new point in history would begin.

Saturday was a day of isolation. Loneliness. Uncertainty.

So this year I think Saturday is the day I associate with, because since I’ve moved back to Oregon I’ve felt like I’m in some sort of black hole. Yes, I’ve managed to find work. Yes, I get to be with my family and play with my niece, yes, I’ve been given some awesome opportunities and cool experiences…but it still feels oddly empty. Where things of the world abound in my life, God is strangely absent.

Though I guess absent isn’t the word as much as muted is. God is muted. I attended a Christian school for two and a half years and had God in every aspect of my life. Classes were based in faith, friends always wanted to have faith based conversations, my work was in an environment surrounded by people always challenging and pushing me to pursue Christ. In that time God was a high definition bluray with surround sound.

Now He’s more like a gurgling brook I can hear but can’t see.

I feel like the disciples in that I understand the reality of what happened on the cross, and unlike them in the fact I know that resurrection came, but somehow I still find myself resting in the middle ground. I’m sitting between death and resurrection wondering where exactly I’m going to go next or what I’m supposed to do next.

How can I continue to pursue a resurrection relationship when I feel a strange disconnect from my surroundings?

I have a lot of questions and not really many answers. I will celebrate Easter tomorrow and accept the fact that grace saved me. But I will still meditate on the meaning of the Saturday in-between and keep seeking what comes next.

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The Lonely Church Hunt

Church hunting is one of my least favorite things to do.

It is oftentimes frustrating and always nerve-wracking. I had a great church experience when I was going to school in Southern California. I was finally beginning to understand the church culture down there and found an amazing family at a new church plant in Orange, California. When I found them I knew my time with them would be limited but I enjoyed every moment of it.

Being back in Oregon means I have to find a church again. The one I attended through high school and the start of college simply isn’t my home anymore. I wanted to find a church within the community I was living in, anyway, not one twenty minutes away in a town I was out of touch with. So Sunday after Sunday (on the Sundays I can manage to get out of bed which is a different topic) I try new churches and I walk out of them feeling strangely alone.

The past few years have taught me that ‘little c’ church is not the same as ‘big c’ Church. The Church, which is the culmination of all God’s people all around the world regardless of denomination, is different than the little church communities that meet in buildings on Sunday. They are all connected to the bigger idea of Church and I would think that would make it easy to slide into a community and find a home. After all, we believe the same things. Death, burial, resurrection and all of that. Yet it doesn’t seem to be the case in my experience.

A favorite author and blogger of mine, Rachel Held Evans, posted this on Facebook yesterday:

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I appreciated it. I appreciated the admission of loneliness because it finally gave me the description of what I felt as I left churches. The thing is the loneliness doesn’t come from a lack of a connection with God. It comes from a lack of connection with God’s people, with my Christian family.

When I started in at my University I would have said that church was about me and God. It was about me going and connecting with God and then leaving until the following week. My view of church was narrow and consisted of me and God. Sure, interaction with other people was nice but it wasn’t a requirement. As long as I was on good terms with God I was fine.

Then I learned something very important: church isn’t about me it is about connecting with fellow believers. It is about joining into something bigger than just me. It is about communion and collective worship. God is seen in his Church, where ever his people gather together he is there, and I think this is by design because He knows that we need each other. His people need to be with other members of the body in order to grow, mentor, flourish, and change.

So when I walk out of a church building on a Sunday and feel lonely it isn’t because I didn’t get something out of God, or that I feel my connection with Him is lacking. I feel lonely because I felt like an alien, a foreigner, and someone who didn’t belong in that particular church.

I won’t give up my search for a church family and already have an idea of where I will go from here, but I wanted to share because I think what Rachel said is important. Any person – Christian or non Christian – who walks out of a church feeling lonely isn’t alone in that feeling.

You’re in good company.