I get together at this pub every couple weeks or so with a few friends to have drinks and discuss various culturally relevant topics of interest to all of us. We call ourselves The Philosophers Club, I guess because we couldn't come up with anything much nerdier than that. (I mean honestly, could you?) But inevitably, no matter what topic we start out with — the evils of Facebook (that's usually my idea), the nature of truth, the pursuit of happiness — we always end up talking about church and Christianity. And last night was no exception.
Confession time: I haven't been to church in several weeks now, because my church is in my black books lately. It's hard for me to articulate exactly why, but basically I'm annoyed at the whole programmatic aspect of the endeavor. Church isn't a place to be anymore, if it ever was, at least in America. No, it's a whole new To Do list, especially when you add up the myriad of activities beyond the Sunday sermon to help you get "plugged in" or "connected" (and notice the terminology of mechanization).
As if we weren't busy enough already in our lives.
Here's the thing. I don't want to join a "small group", or lead one. I don't want to go on a missions trip. I don't want to go on my church's annual retreat, a decision that people simply can't understand when I don't offer up a good excuse along with it, such as, "I'm dying." And so help me God, if I hear the word "community" or the phrase "doing life together" one more time, I'm going to puke on someone's face.
What I want is rest. I want silence. I want mystery. And I want communion. But I don't particularly want church. At least not right now.
I said some of this to my fellow philosophers (all two of them) last night. Not in so many words, but that was the gist. At least it must have been, because the next thing I knew, one of them was flagging down the waitress (who, I thought, was already a tiny bit annoyed at us for not buying beer or food this time, just coffee and dessert) to tell her, "We'd like to do communion. Can we have some wine and a side of bread?"
I felt a little weird about it at first. Praying over the bread and wine when it was brought to our courtyard table, while some sports event played out on the big screen TV behind me. Passing the elements around and trying not to look at fellow diners to see if they were looking at us. But after we prayed, after we read the Passover passage from the Gospel of Luke off of my friend's iPad, after we broke the bread and shared the wine, we sat back, looked at each other, and said, 'Wow. That was really nice."
And you know what? It was. Really, really nice.
An interesting little addendum to this story: Today I found out that last Sunday the topic at my church was... the meaning of communion. Weird, right? Maybe God's trying to tell me something. Maybe I'll try not to think about what it might be. Because I have this sick feeling it involves the word "community." Ugh.