Mingo Presbyterian Church, Mingo, WV http://wvpresbytery.org/Churches/church100/tabid/247/Default.aspx
The Church states repeatedly that Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sin and thus forge the path back to the wrathful God of the Old Testament who banished us from the Garden of Eden because of the sinful choice of Eve, the temptress of Adam.
Perhaps many people need to hear this fear-based message, to shake them up, make them look more deeply at their behavior and their hearts, but my experience of Christ, however, was contrary to this idea of being born as a sinner in need of a savior.
My call to Christ came in the form of an invitation into love.
Perhaps it was simply that I was very needy at the time, hurting in the throes of divorce with my life turned upside down, with nothing stable for me to cling to, that I entered a church. Perhaps.
Perhaps the experience of a whole community of loving people who welcomed me impressed me. Perhaps.
Perhaps seeing a community willing to reach out to the poor and needy around them made me see a way to find purpose and be a help to others. Perhaps.
Or perhaps my imagination got the better of me. Perhaps.
One day I was sitting in the back of the sanctuary off to one side when I saw the figure of Jesus, the traditional one with outstretched welcoming arms, standing on the chancel. I knew no one else was seeing what I was seeing and I also knew I was seeing with my “third eye.” This was sixth sense stuff and it scared me. But what didn’t scare me was the feeling of the call. I felt completely loved, in spite of the brokenness of my life at that particular time. I felt peace and love radiating from Jesus, cutting through all the clutter of my broken relationship. My broken heart began to heal.
To this day, many years later, I can still call upon and feel that love emanating through me into my core, bringing me peace and comfort and awareness. It was the beginning of my journey as a Christian.
It has been a struggle in many ways. I have learned so much, become deeper, kinder, and stronger. I have shed some of my fear. I have shed my need to remain isolated although I still, and always will, enjoy solitude. I can no longer call God only Father, for God is also Mother. Often I pray to Shekinah who rises and gives birth to the world and to life. For me as a woman, Shekinah is a model of deity who I am able to internalize, which empowers me in ways I had not imagined possible nor ever understood. I stand now as an equal with Jesus, because Jesus did indeed teach me that I was as good as everyone else, that everyone else was as good as me, and when we serve one another out of passion and freedom, we ourselves are freed.
As Rumi says: “When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”
The thing is that this invitation into love from Jesus the Christ is available to everyone.