22 September 2013

biblical unicorns

I was at church this morning. It's the first time we've been since the start of summer as there is no Sunday school in the holidays and we've been otherwise occupied (wedding, hospital) since school has restarted. 
It was nice to be back and to chat with our friends there. One of the men that has been helping with the Sunday school has decided to go to theology college and become a fully fledged youth minister so he was telling us about how he made the decision and why. It was nice to be able to hear someone speak so passionately about something that they obviously care deeply about.
We sang a few hymns and one in particular resonated with me. After A had told us about how he heard his "calling" we sang a song about responding to the Lords call. Now, I'm not a majorly religious person, but for some reason the chorus made me cry. I am capable of crying over adverts and The Simpsons, so it's not particularly unusual for me. But it made me wonder again about my own faith.
I keep wondering what it is that drives me to go to church every week when I don't claim to be a religious person. Part of it is to do with the sense of community and belonging that I get from it. Important for someone who regularly feels lonely. I also know that people notice if I'm not there. I am often stopped in the street and people always ask after madam.
When we were in hospital last week I text one of the ladies who works on the family support team to ask her to put madam in the prayers for that week. She not only did that but also arranged for a wee present for madam to be posted through our door that was waiting for us when we got home. Its this level of thoughtfulness and caring that constantly surprises me. And then I think, why should it?
This is a church, this is what it is meant to do. Look after the members of its community, visit the sick and the elderly, be a family for those who need one. And I have never felt that so much from a church as I do from this one. I only really went back to church when I was pregnant with madam. I had always gone at Christmas as I love the whole shebang, the carols, the decorations, the sense of hope in the air.
But when I was pregnant I began to see myself in a different way. I realised just how incredible humans are (well, all animals really). I had very little input on what was going on inside me, it just went into autopilot and did it itself. I can see why some people may go the other way at this point and see it as proof of there being no God etc.
I guess it comes down to how I interpret the religious teachings I received in my youth. I, like madam, went to Sunday school every week until I was about 10. I was told all the bible stories and I paid very little heed to them. And then when we started to study science at school I was even more dubious about what religion had told me. I was as disinterested in church as pretty much every other teenager I know. The few services that I was made to go to seemed to be extremely long and very tedious.
What changed was when I became older still and learnt about our ancient storytelling traditions. How all our histories were told as stories. How they must have been made to be interesting so that people would listen and how they had messages and told truths.
I don't for a moment believe the world was made in 6 days, I pretty much haven't since I learnt about evolution. But the people who wrote the bible (and especially the very first parts of it) didn't know about it. And how do you explain to the uneducated masses about how it all came together. You make it simple, you make it understandable. You set it out in easy chunks. And no, of course there are no dinosaurs in the bible, no-one had ever heard of them.
There are unicorns though. Really. And they are mentioned on about 5 different occasions. For example: Isaiah 34:7 "And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness."
Yeah, so the bible is totes accurate and should be taken completely at face value. Give me a break! Its the people who insist upon it that need help! And we don't even have all of it. There are many more parts of it that have been deemed unsuitable by the Vatican. Why? Surely adding in as much as possible would help us to understand our religion more.
If you've ever watched the film "Stigmata" you'll have heard of the Gospel of Thomas. This is alleged to be Jesus' own words recorded by Didymos Judas Thomas. They make interesting reading, and if you are interested I've put a link here. The quote that the film made famous is actually from two separate parts of the scroll, so don't expect to find it verbatim!
I'm not sure I can explain why the church has come back into my life. It's an appreciation of a higher power (whatever that may be) and my need to feel that someone and something is watching over me. I know how much of a miracle a body can perform, I have held my new born child in my arms. And all I could think was how did I make something so amazing without even thinking about it! I have a feeling, someone else helped.
I know that a lot of people reading this might have no faith, so I apologise if this was all irrelevant to you. I know my belief is only mine. And I am just happy to have found it and that it brings me comfort in the dark places. If you want to challenge me or ask me questions you are, as always, welcome to. (but be nice or I won't answer! ;P)  


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