Jesus met questions about fasting with some very cryptic metaphors. Pharisees performed their fasts from a place of strength to show their dominance and pious obedience. Jesus said his followers would fast in his absence.
The spirit of God has been removed from our Churches. Politics, anti-intellectualism and science denial (to name a few diversions) have filled the minds of attendees.
This fast from attending Church is different. It comes about through weakness and defeat. We’ve been abandoned by our denominations in a kind of religious apartheid to live in spiritual orphanhood. Castaways. We do home church, rather. It’s lesser, but fresher.
Early 2019 we quietly slipped away from an Evangelical church we attended for most of the 2010’s. But in the heart, we had departed much earlier – under that darkening cloud of spiritual apartheid that gathered in 2015/16.
In 2020 when I dumped more than 400 Facebook Evangelical ‘friends’, I did so thinking that any of those contacts who were real friends would reach out. Just one did so.
Sometimes we come across former friends in the Grocery, we with masks and vaccinations – them not usually. Gently, I try to help them understand that I don’t answer churchy questions asserting that I don’t want confrontation. “No” I say. “I don’t think we’ll be coming back.” And then the tone turns defensive: “But why not!!?”
There are accusations of not holding to ‘doctrine’ over this, or agreeing with that policy. “Forsake not your gathering together” is invariably blurted. Some names fly followed by a range of conspiracy / end times gossip. A kind of rage ensues. Opinions of their cultish leadership, regurgitated and used like weapons. And I realize again, Church died for me quite a while ago.
The imagery in Luke 5 speaks to us.
“For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
“And no one having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘the old is better.’ “
Upon our actual departure, we experienced quite a season of detoxification and deconstruction. So many made up rules and reasons: Inferring doctrines based upon derivative dogma. Sometimes the urge to return, and stop thinking for ourselves was really attractive. Almost like addicts.
So, it’s taken a while. But we’ve weaned ourselves off of the old wine. Our worship, study and fellowship is very plain. We don’t get so much of it. On occasion we meet with far fewer actual friends. Simpler. Fresher, sweeter. Authentic. Less powerful perhaps, but surprising.
When I think of the old wine, that so many still prefer – I recognize that it’s complex, expensive, fashionable and exclusive attributes. Great old wine is very gratifying to consume. It’s packaged, labeled and distributed. Sometimes, it’s fake and made only for profit.
These analogies are not meant to seem mystical. Instead – illustrative. After decompressing / detoxing / continuing to deprogram ourselves… we’re experiencing a kind of stillness…. something says wait.
Maybe you’re a victim of the same apartheid, or have pulled away in your heart / mind? What’s that look like for you? Is it like being orphaned. Or marooned? or Castaway?
Whatever you think, let us know?