This is the fifth Easter holiday that has meant little more to me than a time to celebrate with family. As the child of a pastor and the granddaughter of a pastor, both of whom walked the walk more than they talked the talk, writing that sentence is harder than you can imagine. But hard or not, I have no regrets about writing it. Getting to this point wasn’t quick and there wasn't one catalyst, looking back, I see that it was inevitable.
The events of June 9, 2003, pretty much finalized my fraying-around-the-edges faith (I'll discuss the events that started the fraying in later posts). On that lovely June evening, my step-son, the drug addict/alcoholic got really miffed that his dad wouldn’t let him leave the house at midnight to go to a party, so he took his revenge on his father by burglarizing 12 cars and one house in our neighborhood, stealing one car and doing donuts in another neighbor’s yard. This, in a place where we’d lived for less than six months, where no one locked their houses or cars (they do now, thanks to my family) and where we were hoping to spend the rest of our lives. The step-kid was so stoned that he left his cell phone in the car that he stole. There was no denying the crime or getting the kid off, as his parents had been so willing and able to do the previous times he’d committed crimes.
So, there we were. Five felony counts in our neighborhood. How did the neighbors react? Well, with one exception, our church-going neighbors shunned us; the ‘godless heathens’ rallied to our support in a kind of judge not, as you never know with kids kind of way. Our neighborhood was divided: those who would talk to us, those who wouldn’t. Neighbors who had talked to us previously, now put their heads down and scurried by—at the grocery store, on the street, and at church.
One neighbor down the street, a deacon in the church we’d started to attend, was kind enough to write a letter to all the neighbors, warning them of the horrible kid living in their midst. It was personal; it was accusatory; it was ugly. He was also kind enough to attach photocopies of the police report and highlight each incident…we had never spoken to him and he didn’t have any idea of who we were, but the righteous indignation dripped from every word in that letter.
Nine months later, on Easter Sunday (I was still going to church) at church, our pastor read an email from that same neighbor, who was serving in Iraq. The email began “He Is Risen; Christ is Risen indeed. I thank my Lord Jesus Christ for the many blessings….” I stopped listening after that and my heart turned to stone. Literally turned to stone; I got cold all over and I was done. I glanced sideways and saw that man’s wife sitting two rows ahead of me with her three children; two rows ahead of her was the woman and her husband who tried to have the pro at the club fired for being gay. And it was over. If Jesus was Lord of this bunch of hypocrites then I didn’t want to be part of the club.