An hour in the garden of Eden?

  image: book cover found in secondhand book store: Nick Earle,  What’s Wrong with the Church?  (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1961).

image: book cover found in secondhand book store: Nick Earle, What’s Wrong with the Church? (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1961).

LIKE EVERYONE else, I wish that the church’s community would be a remarkable sign of divine transformation.  I wish the liturgy was feminist heaven, the adult forums vibrant discussions of profound religious issues, the parish activities stunning aftershocks of the resurrection.  Perhaps it is not the perception of what Sunday morning is that keeps people away: it is the heartache over what it isn’t.  Indeed, some Sundays I experience such a wrench, desperate disappointment, sorrow to the marrow.  But again I think, ah yes, Trinitarian faith: if this God became incarnate in a first-century male and lives continuously in the human community, I ought not expect Sunday morning to be an hour in the garden of Eden.  If your God is incarnate, the garden might be more like Gethsemani.  The Christian enterprise is not getting yourself transported to heaven.  Rather, it is realizing that this unkempt community is the paradise that the Spirit of God is cultivating.  I do not always succeed in this realization, but each Sunday morning I try. 

—-Gail Ramshaw, Under the Tree of Life: The Religion of a Feminist Christian (New York: Continuum, 1999), pp. 93-4.