Posts Tagged With: worship

Waiting to Breathe

IMG_1489The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. – Job 33:4

We all have habits we fall into while waiting for a big event. Mine is often holding my breath – both literally and figuratively. As I prepare for the imminent journey to England, along with fall plans for ministry, anxiety is building within me and I catch myself not breathing. Waiting to finish that next task, I don’t fill my lungs fully. Short, shallow breaths keep me going as my shoulders gradually rise throughout the day. I’m attempting to hold on until July 18 when I can finally let go and revel in the places and stories for which I’ve been planning.

As I hold on, though, I’m in danger of losing the very stories that center me for the pilgrimage ahead. I forget to look around where God has me today and live as if these fulfilling stories can only enter my life during these extreme trips. The rest of life is merely waiting for them to take place. If I continue in this state, I may find myself unable to slow down and change my routine of running from task to task even once in England. So, I’m stopping now to breathe. To consider some of the practices drawing me to travel, but also those that I would like to engage with more deeply when I return.

Playing  The child in me wants to break out and play. I’m looking forward to spending time on this upcoming pilgrimage learning to sketch, sharing writing with others, visiting sites, attending concerts, and taking in the new places. All of these activities come without expectations that they need to be finished by a certain date, reach a certain number of people, or be judged. I want to encounter each of these activities with wonder and willingness to enjoy each moments and try new things.

Feasting  Associated with the play, I want to feast on words, places, and food. Instead of worrying over budgets and living in scarcity, I’m eager to thoroughly enjoy the abundance of each day – even within limitations. First feasting in the mercy and love that God pours on us, then in the other gifts that he graciously shares from his creation.

Creating  I can’t wait to sit, draw, write, imagine, and weave stories. I’m looking forward to being in a space that honors creativity and those who express it through various media. I like to think that I have a spark of creativity in me that needs to get out, even in the midst of administrative tasks. If nothing else, I am eager to see the creativity of God expressed through his people.

Gathering From a young age I’ve yearned to gather with people of similar interests. To laugh and learn together. While I’ve always been surrounded by a loving family and friends, there have been a few significant times that a group has coalesced around a shared experience – whether that’s at a camp, at college, or through travel. These times and people have been key turning points in my life. Maybe this coming pilgrimage will be another one.

Worshiping  In, through, and under all of these practices I long to see God in the midst of all molding a story. Ironically, even though I work in campus ministry, it can easily become an array of tasks instead of a space in which to worship and see God. Stepping away from the weekly routine I look forward to engaging with God anew.

As I prepare for this upcoming pilgrimage, I want to be open to the stories in which I find myself. To be looking for the ones I expect, following the ones that have drawn me, but also to welcome all that I encounter. This journey isn’t about designing a comfortable story in which to hide. Instead through these practices I want to be challenged to honestly engage with God’s story – and return with a renewed experience of flourishing in God’s grace and sharing this with others.

Even now I’m starting to breathe more freely. I’m entering a space outside of the daily task-driven routine. This isn’t necessarily an ideal place, but one in which I can meet the reality of life on a new level, to rework deep stories, and to return to provide space for people to play, feast, create, gather, worship – and breathe.

Categories: Pilgrimage Sharings | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Attending to Church

I’m getting tired of hearing pastors complain that people put soccer practices, family gatherings, and vacations above church.  Yes, it’s easy to fall into this complaint.  I also do so as I look around the sanctuary on a given Sunday and count up who is missing.  My mind automatically starts to think about ways to get them back.  But then I stop. I realize that I too have fallen into the practice of equating church with what happens on Sunday mornings.  With so many people opting for other activities, I wonder if people are not only being influenced by the larger culture, but also sensing that the church does not know or care about the world outside its doors.

At many churches there is an overwhelming sense that one must be present on Sundays and other events to be an active member and grow as a Christian: keeping the Sabbath means going to church.  Now, it’s not a bad thing to be in Bible studies or worship God corporately, don’t get me wrong.  The Bible encourages us to draw together and praise God, “not neglecting to meet together” (Hebrews 10:25) and Sunday morning activities are one way to do so.  Yet, in the church model that focuses on Sunday morning attendance, only once people enter our doors and become involved in our programs do we have the opportunity for influence.  We can rest on attendance numbers for proof that people are growing closer to Christ.  But are they really?  Are programs really the best way to shape people as Christ followers?  Because so much effort has been exerted in developing services and other programs that will attract people, we’ve forgotten something much more important, but more difficult: relationships.

What if we look at church more as the body of Christ – which it is – and not merely as a body that comes together primarily to keep an institution going?  Yes, some members of the body will serve the church as Sunday School teachers, administrators, and trustees.  But what if being a mother, a janitor, a barista, or a teacher were also regularly promoted as ways of attending church?  In this way, we are attending to church when we are attendant to Christ’s mission in our lives.  This may be during a weekly worship service, but it also can take place where ever we are at a given moment.  As we talk to the cashier at the corner grocer, take a pie to our next door neighbor, attend our child’s soccer game, or skip choir practice in order to attend a friend’s concert.

With this perspective, I don’t feel the need to coerce or convince people to be present at a weekly service.  We can walk together throughout the week learning how God is at work in our lives and how we are in mission in our places throughout the world.  Then, as we become more fully enmeshed in His story, we are drawn to gather with others in more formal worship, allowing God to fill us so that we can return to the world as church throughout the week.  It’s a living, breathing church in mission everywhere, not merely within four walls one hour a week.

How are you attending to church this week?

Categories: Journey Living | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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