Friday, December 08, 2006

My Saturday

Hooray! I made it all the way to Friday evening. This has felt like a very long week. Probably because all the snow complicated many things during the week.

Friday night typically finds me looking forward to Saturday. That one-and-only marvelous day in my week that is generally unstructured. No office to go to. No church schedule. Mine, all mine! to do with as I wish.

But not exactly. Not this week.

I serve on the Community Ministry Committee of my parish. I had the sad misfortune – and/or made the grave mistake – of missing the committee's mid-November meeting. At that meeting, the committee considered the Salvation Army's request that our parish "staff" the bell-ringing stations at four stores tomorrow. The committee agreed to do so. But with little lead time, we didn't get enough volunteers. So, being a good committee member, I offered to serve if needed, if we weren't able to fill all the slots on our assigned schedule.

That was not an easy offer to make, but I felt my committee responsibility required it.

I loathe the military model that the Salvation Army has adopted! There's not enough money in the universe to make me sing, "Onward, Christian Soldiers." I do not like what I know of their Bible-thumping theology. And I think it's a "cheap trick" to hit people up on their way into and out of retail establishments.

And then there's this. I find myself thinking about the idiocy currently afoot in the Anglican Communion and of the provinces that will no longer accept financial contributions from the Episcopal Church, because our church is supposedly "apostate" and thus our money is "tainted." I wonder: If the Salvation Army knew it was a lesbian ringing that stupid bell and collecting that money, would they reject all the donations and send me packing?

Yes, yes, yes, I know! The Salvation Army also does a great deal of good in feeding and housing people who are on the margins. I commend their good works. But other organizations do good works, too – many of which don't offend me in so many ways. This is a good time of year to send extra donations to organizations like Episcopal Relief and Development and to all our local community organizations that support the poor, the suffering, the hopeless. And I would much rather devote my time and talents and money to organizations that don’t call me ugly names.

And then there's this: As a kid, I painfully dreaded that season of the year when we Girl Scouts had to sell cookies. I could not bear going door-to-door and asking people to buy them. Of the various interests and skills I have, "sales" is most assuredly not one of them!

But there I will be tomorrow from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at one of our bigger supermarkets, ringing the stupid bell, hoping people will drop some coins or currency into that red pot. Maybe I'll gain some sort of insight while I'm there; believe it or not, I actually am open to that possibility.

Maybe there's another lesson there -- which I've just noticed while writing this tonight. I'm going to do this task tomorrow because I am committed to the community of believers in my parish. They have decided this is a Good Thing To Do, so I'll do it. Though not without a bit of whining, I'm deferring to their judgment. Maybe that's enough of a "lesson" for me to take into this experience. And I'll try to look at least as enthusiastic as this guy in the photo above.

6 Comments:

Blogger Ann said...

Yes the Salvation Army does good work but here is what Soulforce has to say about them - from 2001 but still true:
http://www.soulforce.org/article/582

12/08/2006 10:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Real Live Preacher (Gordon Atkinson) did this, and has some interesting thoughts on his blog. You might want to take a look. Scroll down a bit, the entries are down the page a bit.

I've heard conflicting stories about the Salvation Army. Enough to give me pause, but not enough to keep me from giving. I give to my church and other good causes, but I do support the S.A. despite some of their policies. They do good work and they help people, so throwing some change in the bucket, to me, is not such a bad thing.

Real Live Preacher said it was an interesting time to do people watching, if anything else. It might be a great experience -- I hope you end up enjoying it despite your reservations!

Blessings....

12/09/2006 8:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTW, I *think* (though I could be mistaken) that the S.A. has changed some of it's anti-gay policies since the Soulforce article was written. I'll check with my fellow Soulforcers, but I read it somewhere a while back.

12/09/2006 8:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Suzer and RLP beat me to it -- I was going to say, it will be a good chance to do some people watching, if nothing else!

There was a Santa-looking bellringer outside a store the other day. He entertained everyone with "Ho-ho-ho Merry Christmas" Santa imitations.

Not that I'm suggesting you play Ms. Claus ...

12/09/2006 8:40 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Thanks, Suzer & Pat. I bet you're right: it'll be a good time for people-watching. I can probably watch with little fear that folks will look me in the eye.

Will look at RLP's essay on the topic. He's always thought-provoking.

And you two have provoked further thought too.

I thought more about why it ticks me off that they post these folks at the busy retail spots. This question occurred to me: Why don't they set up their stations outside of our churches on Sunday morning? No, listen to me; I'm serious. Folks going in and out of stores are quite mindful of our consumerism ("affluenza"); folks going in and out of church can often avoid that recognition. A S.A. bell-ringer standing by our lovely red Episcopal church doors would be a vivid reminder of what Jesus said: "Feed my sheep."

12/09/2006 10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blessings -- I will act more kindly to the bell ringers in my neck of the woods. I tend to be the rummaging-in-my-pockets-for-the-car-key sort of person, trying to escape without eye contact.

Is your hand/are your hands going to be able to handle this bell ringing?

12/09/2006 7:05 PM  

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