Saturday, September 25, 2010

We all have our standards

This evening God put me in my place. I guess I needed putting in my place, although I'm not yet at the point of thanking him for the experience.

A few weeks ago, I blogged about the church I've been attending. I spoke about how more than half the congregation is comprised of soldiers with guns, and how this made me uncomfortable but also forced me to see that people can worship in any circumstances. I appreciated seeing the guns on the floor and the joyful praise that ignored those frightful things.

But I admit: I also saw in that an excuse to feel good about myself. Proud that I work for an NGO which would not force me, not even allow me, to carry a gun. Pleased in the peaceful nature of my job. I was just a little smug about the lack of a gun under my chair.

Not only that, but I don't wear a uniform. Tonight when I showed up for an evening service, I noticed almost everyone else was in their camouflage bottoms, even if they were wearing t-shirts and sandals instead of buff black boots. The women all had bandannas around their heads, lending them an even more casual feel. It felt like church in the barracks, everyone dressed the way I'd be dressed at an evening barn event in summer camp.

It was comfy feeling, but I suppose I again was pleased in the fact that I'd taken the time to get dressed to come to church. I'd even done henna to my hair earlier in the day so I was looking particularly put-together. Furthermore, as I noticed the girls in trousers and t-shirts, I think I subconsciously took pride in the fact I was wearing a long skirt and long sleeves - I felt very culturally appropriate.

So, even though these prideful thoughts had not yet fully formed in my brain, God nipped them in the bud when the preacher himself, right before starting his sermon, came up to me and shouted (rain was pounding on the tin roof, there's no other way I would have heard him) something to the effect of: "When I am ministering, your hair should be covered!" Then he turned to a church leader who handed him, on cue, a light blue cap. The kind the soldiers wear.

So not only was my definition of decent dressing not acknowledged, not only was the formality of my wear disregarded, not only was my henna job not appreciated, not only was my peaceful civilian self not recognised... but I had to wear a cap that symbolised a gun-toting military for the duration of the service!

Now my fellow pacifist friends might here suggest that this is not a church I should attend. Some of us might even question that this church is really Christian. But I don't think that's true. I think this is a church that represents a culture radically different, but no less Christian, than my own. This is just one more category by which God chooses not to judge us.


Tamara @ Living Palm said...

good, good story!

Amy in Peru said...

it is sweet to be taught even in unconventional ways... hilarious the way you put it ;)

amy in peru

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