An Apologetic for Leaving

I’m not leaving Blessed Sacrament…yet. But I feel (and think…why do we always say “feel” in these situations?) pretty strongly about some of the issues and, if I don’t see us headed the right way, I will be leaving eventually. There’s a lot of talk around church about whether leaving is ever the right thing to do. I think that it has to be, and here is part of the reason why.

This came to me as I was getting ready this morning, which is pretty bizarre when you think about the fact that I only got 4-5 hours of sleep last night. Usually, when that happens, it’s all I can do to put my feet in the right pant legs, let alone think up arguments for something. Now I’m thinking, though, that maybe my brain was still in that waking place, where you’re still partly asleep and you have the deep sorts of insights.

Anyway, on to the argument.

It has to be ok for some of us to leave because, as a body, we are to reflect God. In Isaiah (well, lots of places, but I’m choosing Isaiah), we see God leaving his people. They have abandoned him, have come to love other things more than they love him, and have generally turned their backs on him. And so he turns his back on them. We even see Isaiah urging him to do this, to turn from his very own people, because they have abandoned him.

If it is right for God to leave his people, must it not also be right for us, if we are to reflect God, to leave a group of his people?

The thing is, this very same argument shows that it must also be right for some people to stay. God doesn’t just leave his people, but in his leaving them actually brings them closer to himself, which isn’t what I think of when I think of leaving. So he both leaves them and remains with them (or, more directly, teaches them to remain with him).

Since I, at least, have not mastered this “leaving through staying” thing yet, it makes the most sense to me that we would reflect God BOTH by leaving and by staying. Some leave. They show God’s justice, his zeal for justice and truth. They love the church by taking the business of their worship elsewhere. Others stay. They show God’s deep and abiding faithfulness, his mercy. They love the church by exhorting it to better and better places.

My point? No one of us can do both of these tasks simultaneously. To truly reflect the God who loves us and who we love, different ones of us must do different things. I think it simply must be that way.

Not that that is massively comforting. I still feel like I’m in the midst of the old song.*

* You know:
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble;
If I stay it will be double.

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