I was in shock at first when I opened my mail.
I got angry.
Apparently, on my daughters seventeenth birthday, the elders of my church decided to send me a letter.
A letter claiming not only that I am a sinner, but am a danger to the congregation. That they have been patient due to pity for my situation but decided that NOW is the time to take action against me.
Then for fun, they added that I am no longer welcome to receive communion.
To anyone else, this would be devastating.
Let’s throw on the stage four cancer diagnosis for added measure, shall we?
I could either cry and wail and gnash my teeth and go back and beg for forgiveness.
Or I could expose this group for what they are…
Bullies with bibles.
You see, two and a half years ago, the pastor kept texting me and telling me he wanted to speak to me. So, on an especially weak day, when I went to him and told him how I was afraid and scared… he decided to take the opportunity to tell me I was walking a slippery slope with the different things I was doing as i struggled with a terminal diagnosis. I remember feeling dirty, angry, sick to my stomach, and then suddenly God was whispering to me to get up and get out. I walked out of our meeting crying while he yelled bible verses at me as I went to my car.
But still, I tried.
Madison was in the middle of a two year confirmation class, and I didnt want to mess that up. So eventually, I went back to church. I also have a woman who I love dearly, named Marguerite. We sit with her and I feel like I’m near my nanny.
I kept going back to church, and continued to go on my pathway of healing. I could have kept everything I do quiet, but the Lord has led me to be open. If I can help anyone with something I do, then it’s worth it.
That has not been easy.
I’ve since received letters and messages from people in the congregation telling me the same thing the pastor did. People who have laid hands on me and prayed over me telling me that others who are not in the church that have laid hands on me and prayed over me are causing me to go to hell.
I’ve been harassed by one family in particular. The wife and daughter in law sent me sick and twisted messages. My friend Paula was with me when I got one and she was sick to her stomach. I’ve had to block them, and then see them in church and avoid them while trying to forgive.
The pastor recently ramped up contacting me and texted me again and again asking for a meeting. I continued to say no thank you.
During this time, Morgan has started to go to confirmation classes.
I’m just trying to live my life while going through continuous chemo and keep it all together and live and love while working full time.
Last month, on the day I came home from the emergency room, the day we thought I was dying, I received yet another email from the pastor. It stated that I am not allowing him to fulfill his obligation to minister to me.
Talk about ego.
I’m sorry my struggle with cancer makes you feel inadequate, but maybe you should look inside your own heart. He also sent me screenshots of someone else’s Facebook posts and said the congregation feels I am not only going astray, but leading others astray as well.
I responded yet again, told him he is now harassing me, and enough. He finally gave me a promise to never contact me again about this. Apparently he has decided to have others harass me. Which isn’t breaking his promise I guess. Well played.
I tried to go to church soon after but could not even look at him as I left.
So we decided rob would take Morgan, and I would stay home until my feelings of anger passed.
Which is ironic and shows what a good man Rob is, because at almost every bible study their are digs at Catholics. My poor husband has had to sit through years of hearing how his religion is inferior and wrong, and Lutherans are the best.
It’s been quiet… and then?
I got the letter yesterday.
Written on my daughters birthday.
By the elders of the congregation.
They didn’t even have the courage to sign their names.
Men who call themselves the “watchmen”.
Men supposedly of faith who decided to send a woman going through the hardest possible chemo that she is no longer welcome to receive communion until she becomes a good little girl and sits with the pastor and the men and be told how she is wrong by trying to find peace through a terminal diagnosis and has been going to help and bringing others along with her.
The sad part is that this church felt like home when I first went. I actually taught there for two years. My original pastors were awesome and we had a thriving youth group. But then?
We got a new pastor.
People started leaving.
It seemed as if every few years another prominent family would leave. There would be a big blow up. They became more rigid. Rules had to be followed.
There are very few people left.
I love some of those people. Deeply. It’s going to break my heart to not worship with some of them anymore.
But we made a swift decision last night.
We are never walking into that place again.
I showed my mom and dad the letter. My dad wants to have a word or two with pastor and the elders.
My mom got a fire in her eyes and said, “Keri, you were born with the grace and mercy of Jesus in your heart. You don’t need any of them to tell you different.”
My husband is a pretty even guy. Last night he sat at the table and read the letter and couldn’t believe it. He said he has been doing his best to keep the three kids together, me together, his business, his house… and he has a pastor and church pissed off and sending his wife letters and emails? Isn’t church supposed to be a place of comfort?
The fact that they wrote I am no longer welcome to receive communion was the kicker.
What would Jesus do?
Jesus even gave communion to Judas, who He knew was going to betray him.
Only perfect people can get communion?
Are they sending letters to people who were divorced? On birth control? Who took His name in vain that week?
Or just stage four cancer patients?
And churches wonder why they are dying.
How dare they deny communion… especially to a stage four cancer patient.
Sick and twisted power play.
But is where God came through.
On the day I received this letter, I also received a box.
A box of books.
Books written by sister Joan Chittester that I ordered on Sunday.
He knew there would be a letter in my mailbox that would try to rock my faith, so he sent me books by a woman who would keep me grounded.
Am I perfect?
Which is why God sent Jesus to save me.
And no matter how many times I fall, He will always save me.
Do I do yoga? You bet your ass I do. Doctors have suggested it. It’s an exercise, you judgy Christians.
You should look it up someday.
Do I pray every day for Jesus to heal me? Yes.
Does that mean I shouldnt take any chemo? No.
What if my doctor doesn’t believe in Jesus? Does that mean I’m taking something that won’t work because the belief isn’t there?
It’s what I believe that matters.
Have I gone to energy workers? Yes.
There is more and more scientific evidence about energy work. We are all stardust. Energy. Made by God.
Have I gone to Mediums? Yes. We are all mediums. Do you talk to loved ones who have died? Do you talk to Jesus? We are all capable of hearing the Holy Spirit. Jesus spoke to Moses and Elijah in front of three of His disciples. Elijah and Moses has been dead for years and years. They weren’t in cold storage waiting for the day their spirits were risen. Jesus told His disciples they could ask things of Him and He would continue to do them on the other side of life.
Look up 1 Corinthians 12. Spiritual gifts. God gives us gifts today as He did years ago. Everything is possible.
I’m tired of men ruining faith for people.
Weak men who are afraid of women.
Jesus was a man who welcomed women. They were a part of his band.
He was born of a woman.They walked and traveled with Him. He appeared to women first outside the tomb and told them to tell the disciples He had risen.
Men in church are afraid of women.
But not Jesus.
And I bet he never would tell a stage four cancer patient going through chemo she couldn’t partake in communion.
This feels disgusting and dirty. These men have become obsessed with my healing path. If there was a scarlet letter to place on my chest and a stake to tie me to and watch me burn?
I bet they would.
I considered contacting the highest level of the church and file a formal complaint.
I considered contacting the news.
But I’ve decided to simply write the truth.
Expose the bullies with bibles for what they are.
Many of my friends are disgusted who have already seen the letter. I’ve gotten multiple invites to churches in the past few hours.
This is hard on Morgan, as she is only a few months from confirmation. She has spent Saturdays memorizing bible verses and taking tests. Hours on sundays going to church and bible study.
Rob and I dont want our children anywhere near these men, so we are done.
No matter what is said, we will never set foot in that church again.
We will no longer be harassed.
We will not accept any contact by any male elder or pastor.
That church has been slowly dying for years. I will not be surprised to see it close.
As it should.
Ironically, it’s Halloween as I write this.
A day of witches.
A day before all saints day.
I’m sure the elders and men of the church will read this and say the demons have taken my soul.
Boogity boogity boo.
I know the truth.
Jesus has my heart and soul.
I’ll pray for you, men who condemn and pass judgement on women.
I’ll pray for the women in your lives as well.
I’ll pray for the poor people of the congregation who are held hostage to these men.
I’ll pray they see the light, that the Bible is not to be used as a weapon or to keep people in line with the “mans” thinking.
But the bible is to be used as a guide to show how to love.
We have one job.
Love one another.
It’s ironic that the church sent me a letter essentially saying I’m leading others down the path to hell, while I receive messages constantly of people saying how they have found faith again because of my sharing. People praying again.
I’m including the letter for you all to see.
It needs to be seen.
Today I’ll throw a halloween party in my class with my “Wild Things”, speak to Jesus, go trick or treating with my kids and have peace in my heart that I am the daughter of a King, and child of God, and no man will shake my faith.
In Jesus’s name, amen.