Monday, December 3, 2012


Dear Temple,
I hope this note finds you well and happy. I would like to apologize for not writing you as much. We’re unable to connect to the internet here at home except for your Aunt Crystal’s work phone. AT&T wanted to charge us an arm and a leg for a new modem, so we switched to T-Mobile. T-Mobile’s service was really awful compared to AT&T. I tried switching back to AT&T today and they want to charge me a reconnection fee, which I don’t want to pay - so I don’t have internet.
I think I’ll call Sprint next.
Doesn’t being an adult sound like fun? No? It is. Just let me give you a word of advice. Never pay a reconnection/activation fee. It’s like paying a toll. You can avoid it. Go around.
Your Aunt Crystal and I are attend a Methodist Church near our home. Don’t gasp. I know you are a Lutheran. I forgive you. Just kidding. Your Aunt Crystal is still a Lutheran and according to the books of our local Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, so am I.
On Sunday the Methodist Church held communion. The Methodist church practices open communion, which means anyone is welcome to take communion; members or visitors. The Lutheran Church practices closed communion, which means you either have to be a member of the Lutheran church to take communion or have a conversation with the pastor before the service to get permission.
The reason the Methodist practices open communion is fairly simple. They basically say that this is “God’s table and all are invited.” I can dig that. Sounds like God’s character to me.
The reason the Lutheran Church practices closed communion are a little more difficult to understand. You can ask your Grandpa about that. He gave me a good explanation once. I never really agreed with it, but when you want to join something a part of that is respecting the rules. I respect the Lutheran Church, so I respected the rules.
I also didn’t think it would bother me too much. I was wrong.
I wasn’t able to take communion for months. I would attend church, and have to stay seated when communion was given. I think it would have been different if it was my choice to sit out or not, but it wasn’t. The rules were that I could not have communion with them. I could attend church, tithe, sing, etc. - but I was not welcome at the Lord’s table.
The first time I took communion at the Lutheran Church, after taking membership classes and proclaiming what was to be proclaimed, I broke down and cried right during the service. It took me completely by surprise. I sat down and all these emotions just flooded out. They were not good ones.
Now I attend a Methodist church and can take communion whenever they offer it, but I don’t. I choose not to take it because I don’t feel welcome there either. During a service a member basically told my friend he was being rude for wearing a hat. He took it off. I was angry and took up words with him right then and there during the service. I stopped short because I was afraid I would embarrass my wife and friend (more than I already had). This didn’t stop me from following the man through the church hallways after the service an delivering a very prickly yet courteous verbal assault which ended with me saying “This isn’t your *&*% country club where you get to decided what everyone looks like. You are the worst sort of Christian.” etc. - Not my finest moment. My friend doesn’t attend anymore and the guy doesn’t go to the 9:30 service anymore. I guess this makes us even. Sort of.
I think the bitter taste the experience left has to do with the fact that this jerk proved my friend right about what he thought church-goers were like. I really wish God hadn’t let that happen, but he did.
I contacted the pastors about the incident and they were ashamed and apologetic for the event. I’m glad they agreed with me and I obviously don’t hold them personally responsible for individual member’s actions. Over the next couple weeks I noticed that an African American wore a hat and nobody bothered him. Then there were some obviously homeless people who showed up to church and people fell all over them with courtesy. The hypocrisy of people was making me sick.
So the next time communion came around I didn’t go up with the congregation and I still don’t. It’s funny how something that used to be so good and so simple is now complicated. I don’t plan on taking communion ever again at this point. God made the table, but people have messed it up.
Temple, it really all comes down to your personal relationship with God. Don’t let people muddy the waters for you. It can mess up something beautiful.
I love you much and miss you always,
         Uncle Justin

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