Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Who Was That?


In January of 2007, The Washington Post videotaped the reactions of commuters at a D.C. Metro (subway) stop to the music of a violinist. The overwhelming majority of the 1000+ commuters were too busy to stop. A few did, briefly, and some of those threw a couple of bills into the violin case of the street performer. No big deal, just an ordinary day on the Metro. Except it wasn't an ordinary day. The violinist wasn't just another street performer; he was Joshua Bell, one of the world's finest concert violinists, playing his multi-million dollar Stradivarius. Three days earlier he had filled Boston's Symphony Hall with people paying $100/seat to hear him play similar pieces. The question the Post author and many others since have asked is simple: Have we been trained to recognize beauty outside the contexts we expect to encounter beauty? Or, to put it another way, can we recognize great music anywhere outside of a concert hall?

So, this makes us wonder: Can we detect God only in Church when we are immersed in liturgy, hymns and organ music? I'm afraid that we can't. Even more, perhaps the Church gets in the way and contributes to this state of affairs. Church, as we have come to know, is not the structure or the inner trappings, it’s the people, the community. How do we find God when there is confusion and “turmoil?” In his book, The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace, M. Scott Peck says that community has three essential ingredients: Inclusivity, commitment and, consensus.  Based on his experience, he cites that community building usually begins with the need to address dysfunction or what he terms Pseudo-community: “This is a stage where the members pretend to have a bon home with one another, and cover up their differences by acting as if the differences do not exist. Pseudo-community can never directly lead to community, and it is the job of the people guiding the community building process to shorten this period as much as possible.” If our Sunday hour does not abide in our life Monday through Saturday, or if that hour runs counter to our ability to draw closer to God then…and in the other 167 hours of the week…how long can we expect to keep coming back?

John was sent to prepare us for Jesus. How many times have we read (Mark1:1-8 ) or heard John’s words: "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals?” Do we walk past him as the commuters did Joshua Bell?  Please, please help me, help us all to see God at work in and through all the "ordinary" elements of our lives so that we might come running back to church each Sunday ready to hear of God at work both in the biblical world and our own. Who knows, we might even come to church eager to share where we’ve seen God at work in and through our lives Mark 13:24-37)?   in the world. And then who knows what might happen!


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