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Sacred Environments

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“I don’t know, it just seems like it doesn’t make a difference if I go to church or not. I get more out of a good day at the park with my family than I do at a church”, said a dear friend not long ago.  So, may be missing some sacred connections within some evangelical churches. We fire up the production and branding to a level that can rival some major businesses.

It’s really about our awareness, not an experience. It shouldn’t be about the teaching series, brand management, or worship production (or style), though it is, really. Many of us have had more sacred encounters outside of a church service than within. However, I’ve been discouraged at the notion that what happens inside our sanctuaries, cathedrals, “worship centers”, or auditoriums is insignificant. We’ve made the response of our faith so casual that we may have created an unsustainable model of the evangelical church. We’ve lost the Sacred in the process. Part of gathering together is about the acknowledgment and awareness of God’s presence… then how to live and be the Church.

I am an advocate for being mindful and intentional while helping sacred encounters become accessible to anyone and everyone. Within that tension we have blurred the lines between set apartness and everyday culture so severely that some of our worship gatherings are no more sacred than going to show, game, or the DMV. Ironically enough, I’ve lost my religion with some of those scenarios.

Maybe the evangelical church as we know should retool or even reform (again). Maybe there is another group emerging. It could very well be a blend of Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Protestant, and Anglicanism. It’s almost for certain that it won’t look like where we have been for the past three generations.

If you are doing the same type of flow, script, order each week, guess what… that’s your form of liturgy. Everyone has their own practice of liturgy. Allowing and devoting planning with the Holy Spirit in mind will possible be the only awareness needed. Even with that being said, there is a thirst for the framework that comes with Anglicanism or liturgical settings, both high and low church practice. It can be a wonderfully refreshing form for many of us.

I still believe that we should always be open to the idea of God using the available. Our availability to be a catalyst or channel for anyone to encounter God’s renewal of all things is what is most weighty. I will continue to believe that there are multiple meaningful ways to shepherd people. It doesn’t always look liturgical, ancient, progressive, or trendy.

 

Some thoughts about tweaking our sacred environments:

+Know who your people are and where they are in life. Knowing their stories will assist in any shepherding efforts.

+Avoid sonic and visual violence. Having a loud rock band just because it’s the new tradition isn’t always the right thing. More and more we’re thirsty for less, not more. Production has hit the point of diminishing return in most of our circles. You can only out hype yourself so many times. Just because you can doesn’t mean that you should.

+There is no need to “reinvent the wheel”. The liturgical calendar is beautifully calibrating for a reason and has been a “proven” means of protecting ourselves and the Scriptures. If nothing else, adopt portions of it in the effort to help your people with their daily / seasonal rhythms.

+It is a must for us to acknowledge that a communion with God is possible everyone we are present. To pretend we can only encounter God within a church is ridiculous. Let’s also hope that within our gatherings we can indeed communion with the Holy One.

 

One final thought as I seemingly climb down from a box…

Give yourself permission to change. Change your preference, change your perspective, your opinion. Contrary to popular belief, it is okay to change a denomination, worship form, or style. The Holy Spirit is moving, prompting, and loosening us of ourselves. New wine and new wine skins are a good and beautiful thing.

 

 

 

 

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Seeking Mystery

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We’re taking the mystery out of our lives, faith, and the Church.

Separation from definitions is most unlikely in life. Most would say that everything is either black or white. The grey areas can be a little taboo or uncertain. If you are anything like me, you are looking and hoping for some solid ground under your feet. It seems as though we do our best to set up borders & rules to protect our way of faith, but what we’re possibly doing is robbing our lives a full dimensioned journey. With mystery comes great wonder and beauty. Seeking mystery isn’t normal for many of us, but it will give us new life.

I’m finding that life can’t always be black and white, cut and dry. As much as we would like for it to be, sometime it just isn’t. A black and white world is created by man. The Creator breathed color into life. WE define the black and white. We may use our moral code and what we have learned from the Scriptures to form it, but it is still our formation. If we are setting up the black and white perimeters, what do we need God for? If we are depending on our own accepted definitions of right and wrong, we have no need of God and grace. Scripture says that hope in what is seen, is not real hope (Rom. 8:24). Lines might need to be blurred in order for us to actually sense God clearly. God is bigger than our boundaries and definitions.

 

“Shades of grey wherever I go. The more I find out the less that I know. Black and white is how it should be. But shades of grey are the colors I see.” – Billy Joel

“Light is meaningful only in relation to darkness, and truth presupposes error. It is these mingled opposites which people our life, which make it pungent, intoxicating. We only exist in terms of this conflict, in the zone where black and white clash.” – Louis Aragon

 

Let’s be honest. Moments in time like now in #Ferguson, MO have unknown, confusion, brokenness all over it. We may claim we know what is going on, but we don’t. I’m not trying to get us off topic, but attempting to broaden perspective of mystery. Like now. A faith that can say “I don’t understand why all of this is happening, but… surely God is still God and we are simply not gods”.

Continuing…

In our efforts to control portions of life, we can possibly miss the multiple opportunities our days present to rest in the mystery of the unknown. That sounds difficult though, right? Well, it is. However, there is a level of peace that does surpass our understanding when we let go of our certainty and embrace mystery in almost every situation.

So, what about those of us who are drawn to the unknown mysteries of our world, faith, and Creator? Is there no place for us in the Church? Is it only for the pragmatist?

I haven’t seen many big life change happen in safe controlled, calculated environments. I believe that “magic” that happens in the uncontrolled, unexplained place of faith and mystery. Though it takes intentionality and the willingness to have that unsettled feeling in your stomach, there is so much more that we can glean from this landscape of faith in the mysteries of life. I believe the status quo only leads towards being comfortably complacent… and mystery and questions will always lead towards faith.

 

 

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I am present

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To be present (heart, soul, mind… attentive) is more of a struggle than we will ever truly admit.  Adsum: Latin for “I am present” or “I arrive”.   This morning … Read More →

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Beloved

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“Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Success, popularity, and power can indeed present … Read More →

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Peacemaking

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Our glance at one another can be more tender, sensitive, and caring. “We kind to one another, for we are all fighting a great battle”; most say this comes from … Read More →

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Restorative Art isn’t safe

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We label our art too often. That only limits it’s reach, inspiration, and accessibility. Even-though I’ve been creating and performing art within the Church for over 20 years now, I … Read More →

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