My dearest, sweet A—-. I have been absent from your life now for quite some time. I even wonder just how much of me you remember and do not expect it would be all that much. I was in the waiting room with your grandparents the day you were born and loved you as a child in the way pastors love the children of their churches.
I’ve been thinking about your Facebook friend request since you made it. I didn’t accept for quite a long time because I needed to consider some things about what us being Facebook friends might mean. If you read things I write on Facebook, they might not match up with the way you remember me from when I was your pastor. And I want to explain myself to you. I’m a writer now, and not a pastor. Pastors have a burden of caring for the people in their congregation. Writers carry the burden of being boldly honest. And I’m trying hard to be honest when I write.
I’m going to use coarse language sometimes. Many Christians, maybe even most Christians, think this is a bad thing. I don’t think it is. I’ve read the whole Bible, and I can’t find any part of it that leads me to believe that God is concerned about coarse or vulgar words. I think words that hurt people are bad, and you won’t see me using my words to hurt people if I can help it. But I seek to express myself honestly, with passion, with energy, and sometimes with coarse language if I feel the words sound good in the sentence and get the message across with their power.
The next thing I want you to know is that these days I’m feeling very uncertain about Church, though I don’t feel uncertain about God’s love or the life of our Lord, Jesus. But I do think the Church is often judgmental and harsh and unfair and even sometimes abusive. Particularly to people who are outsiders to the Church. And I think the Church often takes things that don’t matter and makes a big deal out of them. At the same time, things we KNOW would matter to Jesus, the Church doesn’t seem particularly concerned with at all.
These things bother me. And I often write about my dissatisfaction with the Church. In fact, I feel a certain calling to do so. But if I do, please know that your experience at Covenant is a treasure and has been, I believe, healthy and good. I have no criticism of Covenant or the way Covenant is being the presence of God in the world.
Lastly A—-, sometimes I might express my doubts about God and faith. Even though I told you a few sentences ago that I don’t feel uncertain about God, that doesn’t mean that I know for sure what God is like and how God watches over this world. When I was your pastor it wasn’t my place or calling to talk about those things at church. But I do sometimes write about them now.
You will always be a person of great importance to me, as one of the dear children from my old days at Covenant. And I hope you’re not confused or bothered if I sound different as a writer than I did as a pastor.
I feel good about who I am and about the things I write. And I’m ready to trust you, as you are becoming a young adult, with this more complex view and understanding of who I am as a person. And I very much look forward to seeing you when you return to Texas with your family.