Getting back behind the wheel of faith

TunesBack in May, my 2005 VW Jetta died. The engine was gone and it was going to cost more than it was worth to get it fixed. So, we started looking at cars to buy. My wife’s dream car is the Mini Cooper. She has wanted one since 2002 when they started selling them in the United States. Thinking we could never afford one I went and looked anyway. Turns out they were exactly in our price range.

We picked it up at the end of May and it is an amazing little car. However, we discovered a strange thing that happens when you own a Mini Cooper. When driving in the Mini every other Mini owner waves at us.

We started asking other Mini owners and it is a real thing that all Mini owners are supposed to wave at each other. There is this entire community of Mini owners that wave at each other and share pictures with each other. It is a strange community, to say the least.

However, as much as this is an unspoken rule about Mini owners, there are people who do not know that they are supposed to be nice to Mini owners. Multiple times I have waved at others and received a one-finger wave in response as if my smile and wave was personally offensive to them. Their response comes not because they don’t like the car or me, but could be the result of a bad day they are having or that they were never taught the expectation of waving that comes along with owning a Mini. Whatever the reason, we can’t judge one miserable Mini owner as representative of the entire community.

I think this is sometimes how the church is. Many of us know that we are supposed to be welcoming and caring to everyone. We know we are supposed to look out for others and be kind to them. However, some people don’t realize that. Some church people return a wave and smile with a one-finger salute as if kindness was something to be earned by those who fit in. Maybe they had a hard day and life is throwing a curveball at them or maybe they were never taught what the appropriate expectations are for church going people of faith. Whatever the reason ,though, they are not representative of the entire community of church-going people.

I guess, what all of this comes down to is that many of us have been hurt by church people, people who are supposed to know better and for whatever reason they didn’t. It hurts, it is horrible, but I promise you that not everyone is like that. Not everyone who attends church is mean, some of us are really nice and would love for you to try church again. I can’t promise everyone is nice, but the majority are.

So then, if you have been hurt by people in the church, I’m sorry, it shouldn’t have happened. If church and faith is something that is important to you then I would encourage you to try out church again, maybe a different one than last time, and keep trying until you find the right one that will welcome you in, care for you, and support you in your own faith journey.

Worship services are held at California United Methodist Church, 227 Third St., every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. On the first Wednesday of each month, the church hosts a community potluck at 6 p.m.

To help support the CUMC’s Weekend Feeding program, which feeds hungry kids, visit

By Pastor B.T. Gilligan for Pennsylvania Bridges