Month: September 2016

When The Noise Becomes Music

This Sunday, we will begin a series on The 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman.

The idea is that we give, and receive, love in different ways. If we are expressing our love to ¬†someone in a certain way and that someone doesn’t connect our ‘certain way’ with love, then we will constantly be misunderstanding each other, sadly feeling more and more empty, a downward spiral of confusion, disappointment, loneliness, and resentment.

It would be impossible for me to overstate the importance of this concept in my life. Everytime I try to describe it, I sound like a voice-over for a reality show, “THE BIGGEST/MOST SHOCKING (rose ceremony, challenge, elimination, whatever) EVER.” So, I’ll try not to do that.

This morning, I heard another story that broke my heart (it seems there’s one every day!!), I ask “why?” How did it ever get so bad? What could have been so broken to make them feel that was a reasonable solution? And the answer is the same as it’s always been – love. You know what it feels like when he looks at you like he has been waiting to see you, like there is no one else on earth that he would have rather seen? Or, when she looks at you, whispers, “I’m so proud of you,” and she may as well have giant red hearts in her eyes like a cartoon character? When you open a gift from out of the clear blue sky, for no reason at all, and it is just perfect? When you stand in line and he reaches over and takes your hand in his own and the volume on the world gets turned down, when the noise becomes music? When you get home and he has already done the first 2 things on the to-do list, before you’ve even made the to-do list? You know what those things feel like? Well, some people don’t.

We (and by we, I mean me) have to start with loving each other well, in our own languages, so maybe the next story we hear will heal instead of break, reconciliation instead of separation, connection instead of the familiar drifting apart, repair instead of another dismantling. All of this starts this Sunday, at 10:30, please join us.

To Continue…

Sunday mornings are usually a perfect contrast for me. My body and spirit are tired, spent after cracking my soul open and giving everything I have, giving everything I am. At the same time, I am absolutely refreshed. The act of corporate worship is this gorgeous life-giving privilege, and the only word to describe the state of my being is grateful. It’s a paradox, and one I have grown quite accustomed to welcoming.
Last Sunday was different. After the talk, I could only sit and stare through the windows of the sanctuary. Before we entered into our service, I was excited to give the message, excited to share what I had learned and in anticipation for what it could mean to us, as a group, and to the heart of each person, individually. But with each passing second, each word uttered, the weight of the moment multiplied. My emotions spiked, with elation giving way to intense sadness. The joy of the message transforming into the grief at the brokenness that makes that message so sweet.
We prayed and said our ‘Amen,’ and I quickly turned and collapsed into the front pew (where no one ever sits), my front pew. Several tears ran down my cheeks and my heart broke, again. There was no refreshment, only exhaustion and heartbreak.
Once everyone was gone, I left and sat quietly at home until I could take the walls no longer and went to the gym to process the confusion of the morning under a thick layer of sweat and the old album (new to me) from Dave Hause. What happened? Why was it so awful? How could I have mistaken the message so fully, I was giddy less than 2 hours earlier? I wondered if everyone was as thrashed as I was.
But, here’s the surprising thing that I learned: It was heavy, heartbreaking and difficult. But that didn’t make it awful. That I was thrashed doesn’t make it bad. I didn’t misunderstand anything. It was exciting. See, our culture kneels at the altar of the convenient and the easy. We say things like, “if it’s meant to be, it’ll happen” implying that if it’s hard, if it requires something of us, it must not be our path. That if it’s uncomfortable, then maybe we should re-think our decision. We’ve decided that pain and struggle are clear signs that we’ve done something wrong.
So, when I felt such a weight on my spirit, I immediately linked it with something negative. But I was wrong. That weight was significance, meaning.
Listen to what I wrote a few paragraphs earlier: The joy of the message transforming into the grief at the brokenness that makes that message so sweet.
The thing that causes the joy IS the brokenness. How can you know rescue if you’ve never known slavery? How can you savor the sunshine if you’ve never felt the cold rain? We are first guilty, then pardoned through this amazing grace – If we don’t understand the ‘guilt,’ how can we soak in grace? How can we know just how ‘amazing’ it is?
In The Dark Knight Rises, when Batman defeats Bane, it’s obviously awesome, but it’s only awesome because he had been broken first. His back, his spirit, his will were left in pieces. He had to get up, had to fight. His struggle was not a sign of failure, it was the setting for the most beautiful victory.
There’s a saying, “Nothing worth having is ever easy,” and that’s mostly true. Maybe that’s why in our culture of comfortability, where everything is so superficial and disposable, we don’t have much thats ‘worth having.’
It’s hard to stay married. It’s hard to stay healthy. It’s hard to examine ourselves. It’s very hard to grow. It’s hard to continue…
We have to acknowledge that we are broken (and I know that’s a terrible discovery) before we can be fixed. But in the repaired version of ourselves, we are stronger, deeper, better on the other side than we thought was possible.
Had I known how difficult it would be, I would’ve probably changed things.
I’m so thankful I didn’t.

GRACE!!!!

I have 2 quick unrelated thoughts for a gorgeous Thursday morning.

1st. Sometimes, our world can feel dark and hopeless. We turn on the news everyday and the lead is always pain, suffering, people lying to each other, hearts breaking. And then, there are other times, when the light crashes through, reaffirming our faith in humanity. We start to feed the idea, too long ignored, that people might be good and the universe is in exactly the right place. Last night, enough voters made the right decision and chose Grace Van Der Waal to be the 2016 America’s Got Talent WINNER!!!! The sun is brighter today and I am filled with love for my fellow man.

2nd. In 2 Timothy, Paul writes, “It is God who saved us and chose us to live a holy life,” or “called us to a holy calling.” Many times in the Scriptures, this Call is referenced. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul urges us to “live a life worthy of the call which you have received.” This is the idea we’ll discuss this Sunday, and it’s one that could not be more vital. Too many of us live lives of depression and exhaustion. We make decisions for today, based on circumstance and emotion, leaving us with a life that looks random and meaningless. We look around and say things like, “There must be more.” The Bible speaks to this condition. But there are so many who see the Bible as only a book of rules and commands, never ending lists of do’s and don’t’s, and do we really need more things to think about, more hoops to jump through?¬†I don’t see it that way. Not at all. I believe we all have a calling in our souls that has almost nothing to do with lists and walls and boxes, that our frustration comes from living outside of it, that once we find it, we will finally know purpose and peace.

I hope I see you Sunday.

 

Baptism Sunday!!!

The Story of God is one of making dead people alive.
Baptism is a symbol, an illustration, a celebration of this transformation, and it’s one of my favorite things in the world. And, this Sunday, we will wade into the river and baptize our brother, Scott Kneasel.

We will take part in this incredibly powerful ritual at 9:30 am at the end of South Lancaster St (turn from 422 and go until you can’t go anymore) in Annville. Then, we will come back to the Bridge for a full baptism service at 10:30 am, to be followed by a special community meal.

You are all invited to share this celebration with us. I’ll see you at the water!