Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Special Delivery to You: Grace

During advent last year, the messages in my church were about Grace. These all went very well, and were of course very Jesus-focused, being Christmas season and all that. One of the aspects discussed was how we treat one another being a part of Grace.

For me, it all came down to this: sure, the source of grace is God. But ultimately the delivery is up to us. Unless we rely on miracles - which I do not discount totally - the delivery of Grace depends on us. Some of you might disagree on that statement about miracles. You have to admit, tangible Old Testament miracles don't happen too frequently these days. Miracles do happen, but they are in our hearts. All the little bits of Christ we spread with each good deed, each smile, each supportive word, these are little miracles that DO happen every day, if we welcome the attitude and presence of Jesus into our every moment.

So it is us to perform the little bits of Grace that add up to the Body of Jesus, the Church. Are you up to the challenge?

As an aside, I just noticed that I capitalized "Grace" without even thinking about it! It makes sense - we always capitalize "Him" or "He" when we refer to God or Christ. Why not always use a capital G? Doesn't it always refer to Him?


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Which side of the table are you on?

A few years back, our church paid for a booth at the local village days. You've all seen this type of thing before: tee-shirt sales, little crafty things for the kids, junk jewelry, we had it all at this fair. The church booth had some pamphlets about our children's program, community stuff, and some church logo apparel for sale. The Sunday events started at 11AM, so it was up to a few early service folks to man the booth for the first few hours.

So, there I was. A long time church attender, a life-long resident of this town, a very new believer, now in the position of proclaiming this thing called church to the masses. Wow. To say I was intimidated would just be the beginning. Fortunately (for my fragile self, but not for the Kingdom) business was slow, and besides I had my faithful friend Kelly with me to answer all the hard questions. So we sat and waited and talked.

The conversation went various ways, but eventually I had to confess that only a few years before, I could not have possibly imagined myself sitting at a booth advertising a church. I could (and still can) vividly remember the old me, walking down the street, not even making eye contact with the church folks. "What could they have said to me?" I wondered to Kelly. "What could anyone have said to get me over to the table?" I didn't know then, and I'll admit I don't have any better answers now. Yet, here I am, behind the table. The guy with all the answers.

We have to convince people of is this: we have something you want. We have something you need. We have something you can't live without. I don't think you communicate this with words or pamphlets. You communicate this by living. We all know it, and most of us say it, but how many really do it? You probably know of this quote by Ghandi: "Oh, I don't reject your Christ. I love your Christ. It's just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ." That really says it all. It sounds kind of strange, but will you help me prove Ghandi wrong? How do we go about this? It's either a long list, or a very short one. I'll take the Nike way: "Just do it." Yes it is trite and overly simple. But that's the way I have to think about things.


Tuesday, February 6, 2007

More on the Purpose

I have to add some to the previous posting about Soul Purpose. You can obviously take the name in many ways. I'd like to focus on purpose for now. I was away from the church for 20 years or so. Then, like now, many youth become idealistic and disillusioned with the corporate church, and stay away. Sometimes for too long. When I made it back in my late 30's, I remember my sister asking why I got so involved. All I could say was that I know it was exactly what I should be doing, at this point in time, to best serve God and my fellow man.

That's really how it still is with the band. I know more than anything that my current purpose on Earth is to participate in this group, this ensemble, this gathering of amateur musicians who somehow get lifted far beyond themselves to lead the people in worship.

I truly hope that you have a place that feels so right. I know I have not always had such a place, and I also know that this place will change someday. But for now, it is a good feeling to know that I am fulfilling my purpose the best I can, for God and church.


Friday, February 2, 2007

My Soul Purpose

Soul Purpose is the name of the praise band I play with at church. We are probably not an unusual praise and worship band: 6 vocalists, piano, guitar, bass, drums. Also parts of the band: the person running the computer and the person running the sound board. It is important to remember that they are integral parts of the team. As a group, we try to keep the congregation worshiping each week, and also move them forward in their Christian Journey.

For my part, I am the guitarist and sometimes sing backing vocals. I'm also the chief sound technician, although obviously someone runs the board because I must be on the platform.

The group is very important to me for a number of reasons. First, I love music, and it is the perfect way for me to praise the name of Jesus a few times each week in a corporate setting. (Don't forget, rehearsal is also worship time, or at least it is for us.) Second, because of the pressures of schedules, this is really our small group as well. Rehearsal is not all music, but devotional, sharing, praying, and all the things that one expects from a small group. Third, it keeps me so busy that no one dares ask me to join administrative committees and the like. (Not that I haven't had my share of that - I'm a team player.)

One thing that leads to constant challenges is the fact that we play in a United Methodist church. Not that there's anything wrong with the UMC, but the local church as well as the national church tend to be a little more traditional and conservative. That sometimes puts us at odds with the some people, although I would say I am never at odds with The Church, the Body of Christ. Often though, we find ourselves up against tradition. Not traditional, as in the music style, but tradition: what we have always done, and how we have always done it. No big surprise here. In fact every church has to contend with tradition, whether or not they have multiple worship styles.

So, this was not intended to be a very profound post, just a little more information about me. Any blogger who claims it is never about ego is probably lying ;-)

I would love to hear from you about this, especially if you have experience working in a church with two very diverse music styles and the accompanying diverse attendees.