Preamble: this post is written in a style that’s becoming recognizable already — that of Bill Kinnon’s The People formerly known as The Congregation, which has really hit a nerve among people who were formerly known as something in a church setting. Several people have appended contributions to it now (including me) and it’s got over 180 links to it, meaning that single post has become more popular than most entire blogs… tell me that isn’t resonance. Tomorrow I plan to publish my proposal for something of a series wrap-up that sets it all in place. So y’all come back, now. But first: a post that threatens to get me in trouble, as you shall see. Just as Bill gave me a preview of his original post for comment, I ran this one by Bill, who suggested a few necessary adjustments. Any offensiveness which the post retains are my fault, not his, and largely due to the subject matter and the voice which I assume in this entry, for
Once the People Formerly Labeled have began talking about the pain associated with how others had formerly labeled them, I got to thinking… what would God say?
Once, you knew me. But no longer.
Once, I walked with you in my garden, in the cool of the evening. But you no longer live in my garden. Now you live on “Mother Earth.”
Once, I told you my name, my personal name. I “gave you my number,” but you don’t call me much anymore. Now you mostly just call each other.
Once, I spoke from Heaven to you on a mountaintop. But you don’t climb that mountain anymore. Now you think the things I told you then are outdated anyway.
Once, I spoke to you through those who listened to me, and told you all what I said. But you killed so many of those listeners that they stopped talking. Now you don’t believe they even hear.
Once, I came and walked among you so that I could explain things, tell you I loved you. But you even killed me. Now you doubt it really was me.
Once, I did many miracles and wonders through those of you who prayed, listened, and did as I had shown you. But you don’t ask for these things anymore, and often you don’t believe I still do them. Now, you’re starting to think I never did them.
Once, others killed you just for being associated with me… but you knew me well enough to count it worthwhile all the same. You regularly shared a meal in my honour. But for the most part, people stopped killing you for being associated with me. Now you’re not so sure about whether it would be worthwhile.
Once you were happy to be with me. You called me God, you worshiped me, sang praise to me, and petitioned me to act. And I was pleased to move among you, to dwell in your midst. Your numbers grew rapidly, and many joined you. You were happy to be called my followers, to worship me and to depend upon me.
But so much has changed, hasn’t it? You set aside an hour for “worship,” and call it a “service” to sit, stand, sing, pray, listen, gulp, and leave. If you’re serving me, I’m sorry to say I’m not always that blessed. Oh, there was once power, intimacy, and devotion in your liturgies, and these were pleasing to me, but now … well, there’s just something missing, isn’t there?
Now you really want for little. You’ve got a good-paying job and a family, so your needs are all met. Nobody threatens you for my sake. You’ve gotten a lot of your own preferences, and little by little, those became fairly inflexible, didn’t they?
Even as you, the church, the collection of people experiencing the pain of living together as fallen beings have been practicing church more along the lines of your own perceived needs, those outside your walls have been labeling you, and labeling themselves. You they’ve called hypocrites and irrelevant. Themselves, they’ve called spiritual. They call to me as “Mother Earth” or “A Supreme Being” or any of a hundred names that are not my own.
I gave My Name to you, hoping you would share it with your neighbours. Along with my name, I gave you a promise… that you would be My People, and I would be Your God. This promise I still want to fulfill, as it means we must know one another. I know you, but do you still know me?
I was formerly known. But no longer. I haven’t changed, and I long for your return, for the days when you knew me. Oh, you still call me “Lord,” but for all intents and purposes…
I am the Being formerly known as God.