When the Circle is Broken

Teen prays for love in a church full of dissension
August 31, 2004

I am only 17 years old -- I barely have any money, energy or even time that I can devote to whatever I choose. I've spent the past months preparing to be confirmed into the Episcopal Church, and earlier this year I was.

It is sort of strange to be entering the church at this time in its history; I feel rather like a stranger in the church I've grown up in. When I attended the annual parish meeting a couple of weeks ago, I was completely shocked at the number of people who had voted with their pocketbooks and decided not to give anything back to the church that every day does so much for them. Over the following weeks, my heart grew heavier and heavier as I meditated and prayed on the body of the church and the roles of each person in it. Clearly, my church has many parts that are in open rebellion.

Finally, I went with some of our clergy to a diocese wide service of prayer for reconciliation before our convention. Kneeling in prayer, I broke down and wept for the church as I knew it growing up: a church without politics or anger or dissension ... a church simply to glorify God.

Perhaps this is naive, even for me at 17, but to me the church is simply a place where it is easiest for me to love God with all my heart soul and mind, and a place that encourages me to love my neighbor as myself. My church, however small, however broken, still does that for me. I believe it always will -- it is my home. What I experience there has not to do with sexuality or politics, tradition or even doctrine. It simply has to do with me and God. If a church is not erected for this sole purpose, what is it for?

This conflict in the church has created a rift in my church, my relationships with friends and even in my own family. I have never prayed for truth to descend upon the voices in this conflict, because I don't claim to know the truth. I have never prayed for revenge or with hatred towards those who may have healed this wound and chose to ignore it. I pray, quite simply, for love.

There can be no union on this earth, especially in the church, without the inclusion of Jesus Christ. I truly believe that our church stands now in a circle, each across from his most outspoken opponent. But there is hope: Jesus stands at the center of our circle, and if we will focus on him and seek only to draw nearer to him, we will come closer to out friends and foes as well.

In conclusion, I send my most sincere prayers to the church, along with one plea: I want to know what someone like me can do in the church. I cannot give money, but I can pray and give my service and my faith. Beyond that, I don't know where my place is. I ask that if there is need, you would point me towards it.

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