Tuesday, December 09, 2008

splish, splash

Read Acts 2:1-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28

A couple of discerning folks noticed the 'typo' in Sunday's devotion. Where I meant to talk about Dusty sitting on the front lawn surveying his domain, I wrote of how he would sit and survive his domain! Not sure how that came about (I imagine there is some fancy word that describes thinking of one word and typing another), other than the rush to get the devotion out before church that morning.

Yet as my friend, Lex, pointed out, there are probably a lot of us who try to survive our domain. It's a tough world we live in, and whatever field we work in, or task we undertake, or life we try to live, there is someone, some group, some thing that makes it difficult for us to get things done, to do what we feel we are called to do, to live as we believe God wants us to be. And so, we struggle to survive our domain.

So often, it seems that the church has installed sprinklers throughout the building, not for safety reasons, but so that there is no danger of what happened on that first day of Pentecost taking place in our churches, in our people, in our lives. We have to make sure there is no explosion of excitement, no flare-up of faith, no gust of grace blowing through our halls. We are committed to playing it safe, to remaining calm, to keeping a tight rein on our little piece of the kingdom.

A young adult takes on the task of working with the youth in a church. Intelligent, enthusiastic, faithful, committed to creating a space where kids can safely explore the Bible, talk about the world in which they live, struggle with the choices they face, he begins to engage the kids in a way which is attractive and meaningful to them. Yet, because he is not offering the same sort of structure and programming that was done years ago, he is criticized. Splash!

A musician attends a conference where she is challenged by the variety of musical programs and offerings. Exposed to new ways of praising God, with different tunes/instruments/languages/voices, she catches a vision of what the psalmists mean when they talk about 'new songs' to/for God. Determined to teach these gifts to her choir and congregation, she is confronted with comments about the tunes not being singable, about the words not being in English, about the songs not being in the hymnal. Slosh!

Several members are approached to serve on a committee. Not sure why the church would want them, but assured that they are precisely what the group needs, they reluctantly agree. After several meetings of giving their imput, but not seeing it appear in the minutes; of offering suggestions for new ways of doing, but being told that the way it was done the last few years still works; of providing creative ideas on some different ministries and missions, but never hearing them put to the governing board, they come to realize they were asked solely so the committee would have a full complement of people. Douse.

Maybe that is why, in writing to one of the first congregations in the early church, the apostle Paul urged them to rejoice, to pray, to give thanks. But then, he goes on to say, in a warning to every generation, 'do not quench the Spirit.'

Prayer: When we are tempted to throw water on all the new ideas your Spirit offers to us through new people, new voices, new hearts, Surprising God, help us to sit down, take a cool drink, and listen, just listen - to them, and to you. Amen.

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

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