top of page

Church & Friendship...?

Saturday morning breakfast in my home often includes Brian-observations on things he’s read. He loves to sit, reading several newspapers (on his iPad), enjoying coffee and a muffin. When we sit down for breakfast, thoughts come. “It’s a mother-daughter team writing about how folks don’t come to church for friendship anymore,” he concluded, an air of melancholy around him.

My role here is often discernment, perhaps only a smile or knowing nod. He vents feelings this way...which my own awarenesses often contradict. If it feels significant, there is always later… This was a morning for such discerned stillness, an agreeable nod.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt church was about finding friendship. None of my closest friends was a part of my church (growing up). The friendships that have formed after meeting in church have often been respites from church. These spirit-friendships flowed in and out of church things, in other words, but always with a sense of providing a balm for me in this ever-present reality called church imposing itself into my own intimate spaces. No need to name that at a friendly Saturday morning breakfast table with a local pastor.

Nor did I speak of what also immediately arose, which was CrossFit. If anything, CrossFit is my primary practice community today, where I frequent the most, how I sustain body-mind awareness the most, where I feel the most seen and welcomed for just who I am. I can’t say I’ve ever felt that non-judgmental wisdom-welcome within a local church setting. Who imagines that we do, that others have?

To be clear, I’ve felt the attraction of mystery in the church. I’ve felt an overwhelming sense of Presence and Invitation. I’ve felt a sacred calling and an irrepressible yearning to get closer to something or someone so much bigger than my small world’s imagination(s). It’s been that sense of Sacred Mystery that has kept me engaged in theology/ecclesial things amidst the inevitable frailties and fragilities of being in human community, which is always messy and irritating, angering and surprising, blessing and transforming. I can say church has provided a community of affiliation and invitation into the messy More…but friendship?

Maybe I simply have a high-threshold sense of what I consider friendship, which is necessarily–perhaps by definition–free of any organizational or institutional ‘container.’ Parker Palmer comes to mind. Friendship is a gift of intimacy between human beings, often surprising and un-orchestrated by any function of ‘community’ or ‘institution.’ Palmer might say church as ‘community’ necessarily includes strangers, colleagues, local-neighbors, even enemies…but the intimacy of friendship in such ‘community’ is a trap. Too much expected, resting on something unintended, even incapable.

So I don’t have the lament that Brian does, though I can certainly honor it in him.

Does beg some questions for me… If faith community is no longer a holistic container in our expanding global-intimate world(s), how may we live into deeper wholeness, well-being for all, amidst our fragmentation, polarization? After grieving what-was, letting 'church' be just a part of who (some of us) are, how can we co-create together, with those willing to show up, what will emerge?

6 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Hess Condensed

A more public feed of brevity

for a prolific process-blogger...

bottom of page