Playing Church

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Recently, one of my friends said that she was done with those who are “playing church.” I get it. And I understand where she is coming from. And yet, it is more about the culture we have created around “church” that is at the center of this. Let me explain.

For years now, church has become about entertainment. If your building is 100 years old and you still have a volunteer pianist trying their best to play the “old” hymns, you are seen as irrelevant. But if you have a stage with lighting and paid musicians that play today’s latest songs to precision sound mixing, then you are the go-to church. Sadly, we’ve fallen into the consumeristic model of church. This is characterized by: “I want to be fed,” “I need to sing the hymns of my childhood,” “I’m not going if they don’t play the organ,” “I just want to go, be told what to do with my life, and that’s enough for a week,” etc. etc. etc.

The part that I’m struggling with however, is that church people are the ones who created this monster! And the people who are “consuming,” are doing the only thing they know how to do. It is up to US, the leaders in faith communities, to live into a different model.

I wish I knew the exact thing to do, but I only have some wild ideas. Maybe you can add to these as we try to figure out how to make faith more about our daily lives than just a once-a-week-and-done kind of religion.

  1. Develop relationships – I’m not talking about forming more small groups that bowl together. I’m talking about intentionally listening to another, talking about faith and life, and finding out things you didn’t know about them.
  2. Ground life together in scripture – While the cannon isn’t the ONLY thing that should be studied, all study and discussion can come from it. After all, if we believe that it is “The Living Word” then there are lessons to be learned even now. I believe that we have much more in common with the humans in ancient times than we realize.
  3. Do away with the “Sage on the stage” model – We’ve become a people who have forgotten how to think for ourselves when it comes to faith. We go to church often to be told how and what to believe! Jesus usually posed a question with a question or he used metaphor. We could learn a lot from this way of teaching and leading. Let’s have conversation rather than someone speaking at a group.
  4. Sing songs that are theologically sound and deal with real issues in community – I will just leave this here but frankly, I’m tired of the “Jesus is my boyfriend/I will do so-and-so.” What happened to the community waiting/worshiping/praising/working/etc. together?
  5. Stop the programatic emphasis – create meaningful, faith building, discipleship forming events for the church and community outside the walls of the building.
  6. Practice faith outside of the church building together. Again, I’ll just leave this here for you to think about.

I told you I had some wild ideas and I’m sure that maybe others do as well. These are just my thoughts but I’d love to get your creative feedback.

I do not believe that the Church of Jesus Christ will ever die. I do believe that it will change and IS changing. Where will the Holy Spirit move us? Let’s listen to the Spirit now!

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Glitter

First of all, glitter is pretty awesome stuff. It gets on everything and makes it special. I wish more people saw the advantages of glitter – mood lifter, smile maker, decoration, etc. Children get it. Just watch them do anything with glitter. You’ll see.

Somewhere along the way, as many of us age, glitter becomes a hindrance. Someone you know wears a sweater with a bit of glitter and it rubs off in your car. Sigh. You think how long it will take you to get it out. Sigh.

Recently we started a new worship service called Messy Church. It’s a new type of WORSHIP for families of all ages. Occasionally, glitter is called for! And yet, those of a certain age will say, “We need to do less things with glitter;” “Perhaps we should put a tarp under the table to keep it off the carpet;” “Those kids need to be more careful with the glitter.” Sigh.

Personally, I think Jesus would totally approve of using glitter in worship. After all, what a great analogy to light and joy! I picture God, not as a grey haired old man, but as a huge pile of GLITTER with a face somewhere in there smiling and throwing that glitter love all around! dollarphotoclub_67101131

Perhaps embracing the light and joy of glitter would draw us all closer to God and to each other. Let’s see it on the carpets, on the projects made, on the walls? (too far?)….you get my point.

Let’s focus on worship and love and praise. Let’s focus on God and each other and worry about the glitter on the carpet later. If at all. 😉

 

 

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Constant Companion

We wrestle for the covers,
He’s trying to snuggle close and I’m just trying to not get pushed off of the bed.

He moves so close that the heat from his body warms me.
I’m reminded of the past; good memories of human contact and warmth.
We are not created to be alone.

Eventually, we move to wherever we find the most comfort for sleeping.
And we rest.
Readying ourselves for a new day of walking and playing. Tomorrow.

My constant loving companion, my dog and I.

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Pardon

Each morning, as I brush my teeth, I read the Prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi – “Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace.” Reading this through slowly each day has positively affected my life, as well as helping me brush those teeth for a good 2 minutes!

Today I was stopped, paused, stuck on one particular part of the prayer:
For it is in pardoning that one is pardoned…
This brings my mind immediately to the words attributed to Jesus as he taught the disciples to pray:
Forgive us our sin, as we forgive those who sin against us…
As I meditated on this throughout my day, I began to understand the difficulty, as well as the power, of forgiveness.

I’ve never believed that God dishes out only the amount of pardoning that we give to others – thank goodness! No, God loves us unconditionally. No matter what. I do believe that these words are a constant reminder of a way of living that involves pardoning/forgiveness/reconciliation. A way of living that totally runs counter to culture. A way of living that is downright difficult!
When we are in pain, we seem to be good at finding some way to avoid the transformation of our pain. When someone hurts us, we tend to fight back! It is so easy to point fingers and find blame. This behavior however, does nothing for our own transformation and release of pain. Another way we avoid dealing with our pain directly is to play the victim card, giving us a false sense of moral superiority and outrage. It becomes easier to point to someone being worse than you are rather than forgiving, letting go, surrendering, or even growing up. Both of these paths tend to keep the pain and violence going rather than leading to healing.

Jesus calls us to be transformed as we forgive! To have true healing of our pain as we pardon! I don’t know about you, but the need to fight or point blame always caused me more pain…so why in the world wouldn’t I want transformative healing of this consuming pain? It’s when I ask myself this question, that I truly want to seek healing that begins with me letting go and forgiving – not expecting or even ever receiving the “I’m sorry” from the other. Just giving to Christ all of the pain and hurt, and turning my heart, mind, and soul to forgiving the offender.

I wish I could say that this work was instantaneous but it isn’t. I’m a work in progress! But I can tell you without hesitation that it is truly in pardoning that I am pardoned. It is in forgiving, that I am forgiven. It is in doing the work that I am forever transformed.
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May you begin to experience this healing as you practice pardoning and are transformed in the process.

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rebirthed

It sat there caught in the grate.
At first I thought it was a lizard.
Its surface of raised white intertwined with green the color of moss.
Upon retrieval, its leafiness became apparent.

Life and death were equal within it;
Cut off from its source, of course it would die.
But life was palatable in its texture.
Soft, pliable, unbreakable, colorful.

I shed no tear;
instead holding the life and death as one.
Knowing that all will return;
as everything is eventually rebirthed.

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true need

The plate of snacks is set before me.
The salted veggie sticks melt to mush in my mouth,
even the chewing is burdensome.
Hunger isn’t a feeling.
Not hunger of the stomach anyway;
my soul craving is palatable.
My head intellectually knows that this mushy, crunchy snack will not meet my true need.
My heart doesn’t seem to care.

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Hope

The twilight closes in.
Its numbness crushing.
I’m almost without.

A brief respite…
A breath? Wind?
It wafts in as Presence.

A flicker of Light…
Darting across the darkness
with the perspective of a firefly.

This is more
than a fleeting eclipse
within the tenebrosity.

It is more
than a pipe dream or wishful thinking.
It is the crown of my hope.

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