Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Sausage That is Church

I know how the sausage is made now. That's one of the things you're not supposed to know, right? Or at least you don't want to. The casings, the grossness, the screw-ups, what's hidden--everything that it takes to get to the delightful end product that sits on your breakfast plate or in that plate of pasta.

For the record, I do actually know how an actual sausage is made; the proverbial sausages are worse. In these few days before Lent, when I wish to some ancient council that Easter was not a moveable feast, I can't help but realize what it's like to be on the other side of things. I see the glimpses everyone once in a while when working with lay leaders on things in church. When I told elders that as people offer prayer requests, I organize them into columns with happy faces and sad faces, I saw a few "Aha!" moments glint on people's faces. They saw a glimpse of what made it work.

The Lenten calendars didn't print right, so I'm waiting on those still. Ash Wednesday plans are up in the air a bit still. Trust me, I know. I'm cutting in close. But mostly, I'm aware that I can never again walk into a church, take a breath, and simply be there, worshipping. I don't even want to notice most of the time, but I do. A hymn that I'd like to use. How the candles are lit. Why someone walks down that aisle instead of the other. I look at prayer stations and grown inwardly because of the work involved. I'm constantly dissecting, analyzing, thinking. There's just no way around it. I'm taking note of every single bit of sausage.

Part of it is just interest, I'm not going to lie. My own brand of geekiness is piqued in strange ways. It's kind of like when I go to the website of a non-denominational church--realizing there's no such thing as completely non-denominational--and begin analyzing their theological roots. It's just what I do. Like many people who would like to un-see things, I often would like to un-know them. It's deeper than forgetting; it's like I never knew them at all.

As an often lonely millennial in church, I am so aware of how many people became disenchanted with church because they saw too much behind the scenes. They saw how the sausage was made, and they didn't like it.

I get it, even from the other side. Sometimes we end up with a lot more gristle than we'd like in a particular batch of sausage. People don't do what they're supposed to do. Sometimes, people are downright horrible. Churches miss the mark in a thousand different ways. You do that enough and people don't stick around to see the end product. Seeing the sausage made gets in the way of enjoying the sausage.

I get it. Oh, I so get it. But today I confess my hope the the end product isn't the goal and the messiness isn't so terrible after all. Somehow, the Holy still comes through; somehow, the sausage is still good to eat even after you know. Somehow, the fact that we add ourselves, bit by bit, to the whole process makes the end thing better. Somehow, this holy, sometimes ugly, sometimes beautiful thing, still needs me.