If you are just joining us, we are working through a series on Dear Princess. The first post is here.
Today, we dive into a tedious chapter on a tedious subject.
Chapter 18 of Dear Princess explains how every princess should go to church and listen with rapt attention to interminable monologues, and LIKE IT!
June hid a yawn of boredom behind a graceful hand. She cast a fleeting glimpse at the clock on the wall. Only 11:20! It seemed the minister had been preaching for well over a half hour. But the message was not half finished yet. June sighed impatiently.
Honestly, I had two reactions when I first read this paragraph.
1) I felt sick inside.
2) I started calculating how long June had already suffered, and how long the suffering was to continue.
Based on the facts at hand, the sermon likely started at 11:00, although in some churches, it could be even earlier. (It certainly was no later.)
So she is settled in for an hour of preaching.
Here's the problem: Church is the only event where we don't expect the people involved to be good at what they are doing. Everyone is obligated to be there, anyway. It doesn't matter if the ministers say anything interesting, worthwhile, or useful. YOU STILL HAVE TO COME. So there is no incentive, or even desire to change.
Any blame for boredom is placed on the people, because "they don't love God enough to listen to His Word," rather than on the preachers because "they don't love God enough to make His Word interesting to their hearers."
In his preaching, Jesus referenced current events (Luke 13:4), told stories (Luke 15:3-32), used object lessons (Mark 11:12-25), and even told jokes (Matthew 23:24). He didn't mention woman's clothing, not to the woman at the well, not to the Syro-Phonecian woman, not to the woman caught in adultery. Nor did he tell his disciples to make sure their donkeys had black bumpers. Nor did he mention music, movies, plays, or hay rides.
When Jesus preached, people weren't watching the clock. And when He finished, they followed Him all over town.
So what I'm trying to say is that maybe there's a problem with the content of a lot of these sermons?
The church is a wonderful provision of the Lord for His children on earth. It is a place of love and fellowship; a place of refuge and security from the world; a place of rest and peace.
Each member must do his part to make and keep it thus by carefully avoiding whatever would destroy the peace, unity, and love of members one for another.
Because each member does his part to avoid anything that would destroy peace and unity within the church, any allegations of child abuse of any kind are promptly reported to the appropriate authorities. This dedication to the peace and unity of the group, as well as a love for all, especially the vulnerable, explains why there are almost no instances of child abuse among the conservative Mennonites. (Ephesians 4:25)
The princess will love and respect the leaders in the church and will show confidence in them. She will maintain an openness with them, going to them with expressions of appreciation, concern, or with her own personal problems.
Notice that there is no indication that the ministers have any responsibility. We are continuing with the blind obedience schtick. The preachers are worthy of her confidence by virtue of their position, alone.
Also ewww... She goes to the ministers with her personal problems? I think that there are some problems that would be inappropriate for a young girl to take to male ministers. Perhaps something could be said about the preachers' wives? (Or are they considered to be part of the "leaders of the church?") They aren't. That's just crazy talk...
The princess will obey the standards of the Word as they are applied in a practical way by the faithful church of which she is a member.
The last time I saw a sentence with this many disclaimers was when I bought insurance for a rental car.
Notice that obeying the "standards of the Word" is not enough. She must obey "practical application" of those standards. (This is code for "rules we made up and then wrote a Scripture reference beside." (Psalm 19:8; Psalm 119:89))
AND, these standards must be those of a "faithful church."
What is a faithful church, you ask? Why, one that follows the Word of God faithfully, of course.
But how can one know that his church is following the Word of God? If it is a faithful church, it will follow the Word of God.
So, as you can see, any church that does not match our practice is not a faithful church, by definition. Isn't that handy?
Twila cannot keep her eyes off the clock. She checks it to see what time the service gets started, how long the devotional period is, and if the Sunday school classes got started on time.
It sounds like Twila has a right focus on the importance of punctuality. But she is depicted at evil and shrewish.
Meanwhile, many Mennonite ministers (I have personally known one or more of them) are sticklers for being on time, and starting on time, and noticing when people are late. But I suppose that is different because "they watch [the clock] for your souls." (Hebrews 13:17)
But the rudest of all is the way she keeps watching the clock during the minister's sermon.
How easily the minister can see the eyes that turn to the clock. The person who keeps watching the clock is telling the minister that he is bored and wishes the sermon were over.
Suddenly, the rules about temperance are all forgotten, as ministers are given free license to talk until they are done talking and that is that. (If Paul preached until the middle of the night, surely I can go until quarter after 12!) This argument, of course, neglects the fact that Paul was never going to see those people again. If you are going away, never to return, feel free to take all the time you want. But until then...
Actually, he is revealing his sinful indifference to the message that God is sending to him through the minister.
This idea that ministers are God's mouthpiece to the people is hilarious, not only because it is unbiblical, (I John 2:27), but also because what God has to say is so incredibly tedious, and mundane. (And He seems almost as obsessed by women's hosiery as the men in the church are.) This is something new for God, because the Scriptures are entirely silent on the subject.
PSA: Ministers are called to proclaim what God has already said in His Word. If you are proclaiming anything else, your opinion is just as good as the next person's.
So yes, there are a number of "dear princesses" who still feel antipathy toward church. And now you know why...
Until next time!
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