Saturday, March 31, 2018

What about my friend? (Ask a Pastor)

Dear Pastor-
I like to go to church on Easter. I can't get there all the time, but Easter means something to me. I also have a beloved who isn't really churchy. I feel torn between spending time with my beloved on Easter morning or going to church. What should I do? 
Sincerely-
A Few Times a Year is Better Than No Times.


Dear AFTAYIBTNT, 
Thank you for writing. I'm always glad to see you whenever you come. God sees you all the time. 
I appreciate your dilemma for Easter. I hear you saying that resurrection celebration is meaningful to you, but that the leisure time or the opportunity to start traditions with your beloved is also important. Both of those things are part of the Spirit's presence in your life. 
First, I encourage you to be true to yourself. Do not do something or make a choice, in the expectation that your beloved will reward the behavior or love you more. That kind of expectation isn't fair to anyone. 
If attending a service is important to you, own that reality. You are free to invite your beloved to join you, but your beloved is equally free to accept or decline the invitation without it being a reflection of how they truly feel about you. 
Neither of you is free to manipulate (overtly or covertly) the other with your emotions, coercion, or threats. 
If your beloved agrees, freely, to accompany you, know that you are not responsible for their experience. Other than giving some basic directions (hymnal use, stand/sit, where's the bathroom), their reaction to the service is not a reflection of their feelings about you. It may be about their own faith, doubts, experience, hope, or history. 
If your beloved declines to attend, accept their choice. Make a plan for what you would like to do together after you return from church. You will not be the only person in a service who loves someone who isn't there on Easter morning. That's okay. 
You can live a faithful and hopeful witness by doing what is important to you without resentment toward your beloved for their actions or resentment toward your faith for how it compels you. 
I hope to see you in one of our Easter services. If it turns out that resurrection joy is celebrated in your community through a breakfast you're hosting or a hike or something else, I hope to see you soon at a different service (Easter is a season). 
Peace, 
Pastor Julia

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