I was a guest of a friend
and this was Sunday evening,
and she asked me to
attend the evening service with her.
Things were going along as expected,
prayers, songs, a short message from the pulpit,
and then the floor was opened up to those
who wanted to “testify,” or speak their mind
regarding the church.
And the church family.
Remember that word – “family.”
One fellow from the Amen Corner stood up.
He talked about an elderly couple,
once active members,
always working hard on things within the church,
whether it was a pot-luck supper
or a clean-up day…
but then, about a year and a half ago,
they stopped coming to church,
stopped taking part in things
with the church family.
(remember that word?)
The fellow speaking sounded agitated,
He said that membership in the church family
required active and dedicated support of the church,
and that this couple had not been active
in well over a year.
He then suggested a vote, right then and there,
regarding the elderly couple’s right to be members.
To my great surprise,
those “family” members agreed,
and a vote was taken immediately,
and the elderly couple were voted out of membership.
The church family had disowned them.
Simple as that.
No one said a word in defense of the elderly couple,
no one asked if anyone knew why the couple
had stopped being active members,
no one seemed to give a damn
about things that might have affected their family members.
(There’s that word, Family, again….)
Apparently the gentleman from the Amen Corner
held more power than brains or compassion,
because he got his way,
and he won, and the elderly couple,
not even being aware they had been tried and convicted,
were history as far as their church family were concerned.
I, and my friend, stood up and left.
She later told me that everyone knew the elderly couple,
and that everyone knew the old man had health problems,
then his wife got sick,
and that was why they no longer attended church services.
But also, no one had tried to see if they could help,
no one had said a word in their defense,
and that no one had visited the elderly couple,
as caring church family members should have,
and the elderly couple became unknowns to their church family.
Life in the fast lane…
Life in reality…
Life sometimes sucks.
Maybe that’s why,
more and more people are leaving the church
and going back to God,
as Lenny Bruce said.
I think that, more often than not,
orgainized religion gets in the way of the idea
and the practice of honest religion.
This incident took place in the early Sixties,
and likely the elderly couple
and the gentleman from the Amen Corner
have long ago departed to meet their Maker.
I enjoy the thought of the elderly couple,
in Heaven, on comfortable seats,
watching the self-righteous gentleman
the one from the Amen Corner of the church family,
as he wanders the halls of Hell,
wondering what happened?
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