Last week, during one worship service at the Leadership Conference for The Fellowship and MCC in Charlotte, I felt my right leg began to move one way while the rest of my body was moving another. Another time, I felt my whole body begin to rise.
Whoa! I’m an Anglican by birth and seminary training, one of God’s frozen chosen. This isn’t supposed to happen to a WASP like me.
But it did. And I am glad, indeed blessed.
Worship is not a head trip alone, despite years of Protestant rationalist training. Sure, the intellect is involved, but it is not the whole story.
Worship is embodied praise of God.
So, I feel more liberated all the time, by my experience in Charlotte and by the worshipful movement happening at MCC Richmond.
God is found everywhere in us: in the head, yes, and in the soul, in the arms and legs and hands, in shouts and murmurs, in silence, in all the organs of the body, too. May we learn to celebrate it all, the all of God, as David did long ago (2 Samuel 16).
I am home again today, still fighting off the crud bug–nothing life-threatening, but leaving me very flat.
But I cannot resist the writing bug, even in my present uncomfortable position. Why do some things call out to us even when we are faint of heart or weak of mind?
I want to think it is some piece of my DNA, my spiritual DNA, that drives me to the keyboard to ruminate a bit on life. Perhaps.
And perhaps it is simply a desire not to be forgotten by someone, anyone, out there who checks in to read what I write. Or the desire to connect, even if only online?
Whatever it is, I am glad to be able to do this, even, frankly, if no one reads. But it is better when someone reads, and even better when someone responds.
I appreciate dialogue, believing God made us to communicate with each other and with God. Writing is a form of prayer for me. Sometimes hands on the keyboard feel like praying hands. Thank you, God, for helping us to pray, in all our myriad ways.
At the church I serve and lead, we see Lent less as a time of deprivation and more as a time to explore how we respond to God from the depths of our gratitude.
So, we had vegetarian soup and spaghetti with meatballs last night at our Ash Wednesday dinner. And salad, bread, and even dessert.
The spaghetti was left over from dinners served the past several Saturdays. The soup base was pasta primavera sauce left from those same meals.
This is very Lenten: to take something from the past and make it new for our present and future. Ministers who blessed worshippers with ashes last night said, “Hope arises from the ashes of that which has come before.”
Life is what happens when you build forward from where you have been toward where you are going.
God is ready to help you design the menu of your life, and to prepare nutritious, well-balanced meals out of the ingredients you have, so you have the power to take the next step.
…here’s the wind-up, and the pitch, right over the plate……..Crrrraaack!
Yes, folks, she got it head on…and it looks like, yes, I think, oh my God, yes, its outta here, folks! A home run!
That could be you. You can hit home runs because God is pitching to you right over the plate all the time.
Maybe you have hit a couple …when you realized in a flash that despite all the hard stuff in your life you are truly loved… or when you made a new friend who felt like they had been in your life forever… or when you watched a baby be born or take its first step.
Maybe you’re still waiting for “the right pitch.” Or you’re choking and just missing.
But don’t forget that God is pitching to you all the time.
Why don’t you spend some time this Lent practicing how to hit God’s pitches?
Not sure how? Try a little prayer. You’ll be amazed how much better the game goes.
Baseball season? A new school year? Grand opening of your favorite new store?
Probably few of us think of Ash Wednesday that way. Not like the excitement of watching the first pitch, or even going back to school.
In fact, for many, it may be a day to avoid–too many memories of judgment and doom and gloom.
But what if Lent were a time to recognize how beloved we are? To receive not God’s judgment so much as God’s intention that we be alive to God’s love, to catch what God has for us. Then we’d want to celebrate Opening Day.
I am planning to have that kind of Lent this year.
I hope lots of lovely people, like you, will join me in spending some time with each other, and with God, learning more about how beloved we are and how God wants us to receive and share the gifts God sends our way. We can begin by gathering on Opening Day.
But if you don’t want to, that’s okay, too. There is no one right way to do any of this.
I’d like to know what you think: joyful Lent, no Lent, same old Lent.
I had not watched in years, and I am glad I chose to watch this year, especially to see Kate Winslet and Sean Penn win. I am grateful for his full-throated support for equality.
But it is the news that Reann Ballslee, aka Ryan Allen, is the new Ms. Mason 2009 that really thrills me. George Mason University chose this “boy in a dress” as its latest Homecoming……Queen.
S/he won the most votes on campus, and apparently her talent entry–dressed in zebra-print pants and lip-synching Britney Spears (yes, Britney Spears)–was well-received, too. What is even better is that Reann…er Ryan…grew up in Goochland County (real Virginia hinterlands), is gay, and performs at clubs in the region.
Queen Reann says, “It says a lot about the campus that only do we have diversity but we celebrate it.”
She describes herself as “sassy…an entertainer….not afraid to do a high kick if that’s what it takes.”
I heard a pastor today talk about building a church where atheists and agnostics want to come, just to hang out because they like how we live, where all the colors want to break bread together, all the genders and sexualities feel warm and welcoming to each other, where young and old mingle freely with each other and all the folks in between.
She brought me to my feet in praise and joy. What a church!
That is the church Jesus is looking for on this earth. He sees glimpses of it in various places–folks in Metropolitan Community Churches and our friends in The Fellowship are trying to build such churches.
Of course, we fall short. We are human.
But we do not stop yearning and trying. Nor does God.