April 17, 2016
Last Sunday was a different kind of day in this sanctuary. Different in that we celebrated the Lord's Day in a rather non-traditional manner. Holy Humor. The committee again did a wonderful job planning, decorating and carrying out our twists on the Dr. Seuss stories. Shirley Brooks was the new chair and she dove right in with the committee members who've been together for 8 or 9 years: Rosie, Julie, Rhonda, David and newcomer Amy Levinski. The Rechs added their own wild touch to our day as did Katie with her creative treats. Lots of hats, Lexie and Riley with their own Horton trunks. Dale and Elaine Yungk from across the street came as Thing 1 and Thing 2 all grown up! The Townsends gave their view of what the Zoo would look like if they ran the zoo.
His answer to them, “The works that I do in my Father's name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.” Sheep are not military animals, sheep are not bold or smart; they are different. Jesus is more interested in relationship than revenge, more interested in our eternal destiny than eminent domain. More interested in demonstrating service than in being served. Jesus didn't look like their ideal Messiah. Their expectations of what the Messiah would want and how he would act did not match up with what Jesus said and did. Kind of like the expectations of a dentist Julie and I went to while we were on vacation. Julie explained our trouble to him, “I want a tooth pulled and I don't want Novocain because I'm in a big hurry. Just extract the tooth as quickly as possible and we'll be on our way.” That dentist was quite impressed, “You are certainly a courageous woman,” he said. “Which tooth is it?” Julie turned to me and said, “Show him your tooth, dear.” Different than his expectation.
I'm going to suggest that our expectations of what the church looks like may need to change to fit with who and what we are called to be by our Messiah. And I'm not even talking about Holy Humor so much as the rest of this past week. On Monday night we had a pancake supper here. A pancake supper is usually a find-raiser. We advertise, we sell tickets, we use the money for church projects. This supper did not look like a church pancake supper. It was a few of us gathered to share a meal with the kids from WINGS. They were excited to eat all they could, we had our crazy pancake shuffleboard with prizes for the kids, we had members here to share the fellowship hall with them. It was church being done with no obvious benefit to us. It was all about feeding kids who are in a very tough stretch of their young lives. It was about a safe place for them to see that there are people in this world who care about them and who are not expecting anything from them. Ideally, we were living out some of the aspects of Messiah that Jesus showed, being more interested in demonstrating service than being served.
On Tuesday night, we looked more like a typical church, the session met to do the business of the church. It is a part of who we are. It did remind me of our very first Holy Humor topic, “How Many Presbyterians Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb? It takes at least 12, the 5 members of the Building and Ground committee must recommend to the 6 members of Session that the light bulb be replaced. Then one person to change the bulb. Of course, it is possible that if the bulb was donated by an elite family, we may never replace it. Side note, how many blonds does it take to change a light bulb? Just one, she holds on to the bulb and lets the world revolve around her!
Wednesday, another non-typical church outing. Some 10-12 of us joined many other Litchfield residents at St. Phillips to fill bags with rice, protein, soy and vegies for the Food For Kidz program. We had a “Presbyterian” table which included one Catholic and one Lutheran...it was not a denominational thing, it was a service thing. Our goal was to fill 100,000 bags, 103,034 bags! It was people of different denominations, different age ranges from early teens to upper 70's, different abilities; lots of people watching, wasn't there Mariah? We heard one table being warned about throwing rice...it didn't look like church, but it was church.
We perhaps are making a mistake about what it means to be a Christian if Sunday morning sitting in a pew quietly praying and singing is what we think church is. This...is about finding a venue to serve and to show love. This is about fellowship and hospitality. This is about worshiping our Lord and Savior and entering into a relationship with him. It is about what he tells us today, “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.”
I'm reading a rather unusual book, recommended to me by Rick Carus. It is called, “When 'Spiritual but not Religious' is not enough.” It is written by Pastor Lillian Daniel. The first chapter is about a man she met on an airplane, who, when he discovered she was a pastor had to explain why he no longer was part of a church. He misses the point of what church is. I hope you will bear with me as I read some portions of chapter one:
Special, different, serving, loving, beautiful...pretty good descriptions of church, pretty good descriptions of Jesus. How could we do better than that? Amen.
Hymn: My Hope is Built on Nothing Less 379 PH,