Bob is now on the verge of breaking with the Church, due to a number of reasons which are not my right to share here. He's been talking to me a lot about it while he wrestles with what to do. Tonight we talked for about an hour, and after, I felt the need to write him an email.
SUBJECT: You carry Him with you.
Here's the thing, and it's something I've been slowly figuring out for a long time now.
The Bible tells us we need to have fellowship. This is probably because it is easy for our faith to stagnate and even die when there's no encouragement along the way from other believers. But who says that fellowship has to occur in this church building or that one, or even any church building at all?
Me, I find fellowship all over the place. At home when our family does its nightly devotions. With my friends when we sit down over lunch and discuss faith and the Bible. Bob, I tend to hang up the phone after talking with you and feel more spiritually refreshed than I can remember feeling in any church at any time. Fellowship is where you find it. With your wife, your kids, your friends, the guy on the street who blesses you.
As far as church goes. The Catholic Church is a beautiful thing. I'll never put it down as far as that goes. But it's so damned tied up in red tape. Those aren't vestments the cardinals are wearing. It's duct tape wrapped so tightly around those old men that they can barely move without the entire church heirarchy pushing them along or holding them back, as the case may be.
I love the Church. I love the Mass. I probably always will, and even though we're joining the Methodist church, I will probably attend the Mass on occasion, because it's beautiful and spiritual and so very uplifting.
Somebody said something to me once, back when the Father Dan crap was going down. I asked how on earth a Catholic could accept Holy Communion from a man who was FUCKING THINGS UP on such a massive scale.. and my friend (I forget who, was it you?) said that it doesn't matter WHO is handing you the Eucharist, or what things he has done, it's still God, right there, in the flesh.
I've been receiving communion in the Methodist church since June. I know that the Catholic church says that this is not a valid communion, but I disagree. What makes it valid is, as you said, what is in my heart. When I receive communion, to me that is a very special time where it's just me and Jesus. It's (this may sound blasphemous) almost like making love, it's that personal and that intimate and that utterly beautiful and heart filling. I don't care if it's a stale nasty tasting unleavened cracker, or a crumb from a loaf of pineapple sweetened leavened bread like we use at Ponder UMC. What I care about is.. is Jesus with me right now? Yes, yes He is.
You will figure out what's right for you in due time. God doesn't give a rat's ass where you attend church, or if you attend at all. He cares that you believe in Him, trust in Him, that you have fellowship where you can find it, and that you be true to your beliefs. That's all there is to it.
But then, you already know this stuff. :)
I love you, my friend. Always. Love to Chris and the kids. :)