Monday, August 22, 2005

A New Kind of . . . Something

My pastor (who sits on a tall stool when talking to our coffeehouse congregation) dropped a couple of sheets of paper he was reading from yesterday in the middle of his reading. I was sitting directly in front of him. So it was no big deal for me to quickly grab them and return them to his waiting hands.

That act, while small, was nevertheless monumental.

To explain . . . I've been doing a bit of reflecting lately on staging. (I'm assisting with a charity event next month where I'll be tapping into my considerable-yet-long-ago experience of working backstage at numerous denominational events.)

During those days, if the speaker dropped his/her notes or a critical prop/page fell to the stage, silent alarms went off. Directors were making demands on headsets that stage managers were carrying out by grabbing the first flunky that passed by. While the audience saw nothing but calm clean up, organized chaos was taking place behind the scenes.

Sounds silly now in some ways but then it was "one small piece of paper, one giant flub in front of 1000s . . . "

My current community of faith isn't even to 50 folks but for all the intimacy of our setting, I'm fairly certain not a soul registerd any anxiety over yesterday's falling page. Though most of us are in the Boomer category and demographically speaking we're supposed to really be into excellence, we rarely give in to what's expected.

Don't get me wrong. Our place looks very cool. The colors are soothing. We have experiential stations that reflect a great deal of detail in creating a particular mood. Our music is top notch.

But even when we have slide glitches and our leader is inspired to go off "script" and add a couple of new songs, the ceiling doesn't fall. In fact, I think it energizes folks.

For instance, yesterday, when the group was offered the chance for dialogue there was a genuineness in the comments that was inspiring.

One woman acknowledged that while she willingly wrapped herself around the idea of God's mysterious nature, she sometimes balked at the every-moment-every-day-ness of expending the energy that some folks suggest is needed to follow Christ's example.

Another said that though once upon a time she'd "pharisetically" followed the rules she thought the Bible set forth, now she leaned more to seeing the Bible as a guide.

And another woman, in a great reference to Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman" noted that she loved the idea that Jesus had pursued Mary as Mary was . . . a hooker.

As I listened I had to smile and wondered if God might not actually be grinning a bit as well. We were certainly pushing the envelope and any tried and true traditionalist within hearing distance might have been in a tizzy . . . we were "off script" . . . women were leading out in the dialogue . . . we were introducing a little Buddhist thinking about living in the moment . . . we had folks challenging perceptions of what the Bible seemingly "says" and is.

We were flawed. We were honest. And worship took on new meanings.



Anonymous said...

I worshipped with your community of faith recently. It was inspiring to me. Different from my community but felt like a kissing cousin. I applaud the courage that you and your community are expressing. I'm coming back and bringing some of our leaders. They'll be inspired -and they'll probably be critical (because they are about most things)...and I know you guys are up to both.

Baby said...

He dropped his papers? Uh... yeah... I might remember that... hmmm...