Today we went to the 8:00 service (Contemporary) and had great intentions of staying for Sunday School, but just didn't manage it. We had our senior pastor as the teaching pastor in this service instead of our regular teaching pastor. While he did an excellent job with this particular sermon, I did notice that I was somewhat annoyed with this intrusion into my normal worship routine, and I really do not understand where that was coming from. They are both excellent speakers, but have drastically different teaching styles. We attend the Contemporary Service primarily because we happen to like our regular teaching pastor's teaching style or we would be in "Big Church" as we call it...on a regular basis in the first place. Naturally, we do not attend Big Church in part because I would have to dress up, and I only own two dresses. Unfortunately, both dresses are identical; just different sizes. The larger one drags the ground, and the smaller one hits about mid-calf. I know that they are different, but nobody else would. Besides, they are the universal color of fat ladies...black...along with almost every pair of pants I own save the navy ones and the gray ones. I don't even really know why I wear pants at all, since they tend to ride just below my bra (ala Steve Urkel). I'd really just like to wear a shift (ie mou-mou) and be done with it.
The lesson today was about the infaliability of the word of God and why we can trust it. I won't elaborate too much on that right here, because I happen to believe that you must come to the decision to believe the Bible...or not believe...on your own. Granted, I also happen to believe that you don't even come to the point of decision without the work of the Holy Spirit in the first place. So, a lot of people sit in church each Sunday believing that they will be pursued, and will continue to sit there week after week with no divine revelation. Some eventually get burned out, some drag the world into the church and build their own little power base that suits their needs as a sad little substitute to true service, and others just wait it out.
I find that the burnouts are the most vehemently opposed to "church people" and I strongly suspect that these people likely had reasonable expectations regarding faith on the front end, were probably raised in the church and may have even witnessed firsthand the work of God in the lives of their loved ones. They just tend to feel like everyone is being spoken to by God and that they do not possess the decoder ring. Truth be told...they probably don't.
The second group, in my humble opinion, is the most despicable, because their mere presence dams up the flow of love and service that is supposed to occur in the body of Christ. Nobody needs to manage something indefinitely. I believe that we are all here to serve in different ways for brief periods on a fluid basis.
Kind of like...you start out as a young married couple, and you work in food service. Later, you have kids, and you keep the nursery, teach Sunday School, or work Vacation Bible School or camp. As your children get older, you focus on the short term projects - like Angel Tree - and you help out the Youth group. As they move on, you start working in other areas - including mentoring other younger people. When you are retired, you do those jobs in the afternoon that others simply cannot do because they are at work. If you are housebound, you write letters, pray, and you do what you can for as long as you can.
The group that just gets in there and squats out their power base destroys the natural flow of things and the initiative that is, quite frankly, God given. People believe that their service for God as perceived by others is more important than their service for God as perceived by God. While they are busy keeping the people that God really wants to serve out, they are also missing out on the experiences that God wants them to have.
So, God has to reroute the people He intended to other posts and then has to fill the spots that the squatters refuse to relinquish with other people. Since He has to work around everyone's free will, I'm sure that there are times that He just has to hit the pause button with some just to time everything out. Those on "pause" don't want to be on pause, so they try different things. It must be the cosmic equivalent of herding cats.
The third group are the saddest to me, in that they sit there faithfully, week after week, waiting for God to call them off of the bench. They are passive about their faith and its application. Instead of looking for an opportunity that is right in front of them, they tend to misinterpret what it actually is - a call to service. I know a lot of faithful, God-loving people who sincerely do not know what to do at all.
I suppose that I've concluded that I've been in the third group for quite awhile after feeling like the first group and working through that, and then finally giving up and bypassing the second one. Most days I sit waiting for the next assignment.
However, I will tell you that the assignments have been coming to me on a far more regular basis lately. The assignments have also been incredibly random: tutoring college kids, serving as president of my Phi Mu chapter's brand new Chapter Association, secretary for my Neighborhood Association, blogger/eBayer/Facebook explorer, speaker for the 10th grade girls Bible study, member of a new card club (that gives me hours of enjoyment after I leave), organizer of the mothers of Jill's classmates monthly luncheons (reminders), and chairman of the graduation reception at Trinity next year. All of this in 2009. Whoever is praying for me out there...thanks.
And while you are praying...please pray that I'll have the discipline to keep trying to lose weight. My family bought the iPod (Pati) for me to use while I exercise. Well, I use it to focus while at work. I am sure that I am one of the few people who uses Def Leppard to relax. However, those of you who know me are not truly surprised by this revelation at all.
Speaking of music...I am about to start something else that is quite unique and hope that you will enjoy the journey with me. Most of you do not share my musical tastes - nor I yours. You would be as nuts listening to Nirvana as I am listening to a cantata. I listen to music for the words and how it makes me feel. You listen for beauty, technical expertise and inspiration. I get that.
I will say, however, that listening to Susan from Britain transcended even my prejudices. I do like most show music (except Hairspray...which seriously gets on my nerves). I even have ABBA on Pati, although I'll admit that I skip it the second it comes on if I am "shuffling songs." There's just something wrong about listening to my favorite song of all time...Collective Soul's "December" and then having the first few bars of "Fernando" follow that. I didn't like "Fernando" the first time it came out and I sincerely do not like it now. Thankfully, it was omitted from "Mamma Mia" - the Broadway play or the movie.
More on music to follow. For those of you who don't think you'll ever like what I listen to...trust me. You may not like everything, but I think you'll understand why it is that I do...other than the fact that this part of me just never grew up. Later!