Sunday, March 21, 2010

Should church be comfortable

A church in Texas thinks so.

A 10 year old was asked to exhibit a photo in an art exhibit depicting stations of the cross. The child staged a picture of his 7 year old brother being beaten by a policeman. The photo was excluded from the exhibit. The curator of the exhibit said church should be a place where people feel safe.

Well, yes and no. We should feel safe: safe to be ourselves, our sinful selves. Unsafe in our tunnel vision, our self-centeredness, our sin. Safe in God's love; unsafe in God's love.

Monday, March 15, 2010

New countries

In the 80s I began to visit Central America and Nicaragua in particular. I went out to the Atlantic Region where the indigeneous people favored the contras for lots of good reasons. I visited people who had nothing, who were oppressed by the Spanish-speakers of the west and swindled by the Europeans and Americans who took the resources and left the land stripped and barren. We talked about culture shock. The culture shock was never that of experiencing Nicaragua, but of returning to our world and finding a culture immersed in materialism and friends and family who had no way of understanding the changes that had happened to us.

Cancer is another world. Like visiting Nicaragua, it causes changes to who you are, who you understand yourself to be. Friends and family have little ability to understand the changes.

I am learning that there are lots of other worlds out there. Loss of a child. The accidental killing of another. Loss of abilities. Old age. A child with horrific problems.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

As I was sitting in the fellowship hall where we are having worship in Lent, listening to a member who is a first year student at Vandy Divinity School preach, it occurred to me (having left the screen down from movie night) that I might be able to use the projector next Sunday. I'll have to check the light one morning. It may just be too light. I'm thinking of projecting the PCUSA symbol during the service. Part of my sermon will be a movie clip. I've always wanted to try this. I know exactly the clip I want to use. And I discovered that we can get wireless downstairs, so I can get the wifi remote iPhone app (its an app that uses wifi on the mac to control powerpoint). I'm hoping this will work.

It is amazing. The congregation looks huge in the fellowship hall. I counted 45 this morning. 45 in the sanctuary looks lost, but downstairs, where there are 44 chairs set up, it's wonderful.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A friend in another city was just diagnosed with breast cancer. On March 31, it will have been two years since my surgery. I keep hoping for the wonderful changes cancer will bring to my life. So far, the best I can say is that I'm meaner. I don't understand this disease. There is no rhyme or reason for it. Despite all I read about "life style" choices, there is really nothing one can do to protect one's self.

One change: two years ago, if I had heard a friend had cancer, I would say, "oh, that's awful" and go on with my life. Today, I think of surgery, of chemo, of fear, of death. I think of unfairness. I think of all the stupid things people say. I think of denial. I think I'm a broken record. One day, I may go back to being "normal."

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I love church members!

We have been discussing the sermon and just stuff after worship each Sunday in Lent. Last Sunday, people went on about how important the other people in the congregation are, how much we love and care for each other. I asked whether the building mattered and the response was not at all. So, this Sunday, a couple of people talked about how important the sanctuary is for them. We've been worshipping in the fellowship hall because I couldn't figure out how to have discussions in a sanctuary with pews.

Now to be honest, it was a somewhat different group of people.

It was wonderful, we had to add more chairs for the service. I said how great it was to see every seat filled and the response was that we had put out just enough chairs.

I have a really different set of needs and expectations for worship from the congregation.