Thursday, August 19, 2004

Now That's Funny!

I thought this was funny - Ron Benson in the latest Leadership Journal newsletter:

My Emergent Guilt

How did I get here, dancing off-beat, and out of touch?

I'm sorry. I've tried. But I just can't do it.
I used to be known as a real progressive type. Entrepreneurial. Adventurous. Cutting-edge. In my Midwestern, conservative church circles, I was known as a firebrand of innovation.
I brought drums into church. I introduced drama to worship. I encouraged the gradual abandonment of the hymnal. I bought one of the first video projectors at 300 lumens (we had to darken every window in the building and put towels in the door jambs to keep out the ambient light). I showed a secular film clip once as an illustration (from The Sound of Music), and one time I used a secular song to make a profound introduction (Sixteen Tons by Tennessee Ernie Ford). I took off my tie before preaching. And I baptized some people in a lake.

I've done it all. And not just for fun, either. It's no fun to be labeled a radical. It's no fun having a church member write hate notes questioning your seminary's slipping foundations. It's no fun to be called into your district superintendent's office to face people threatening to split your church in half because of "that karaoke teen music."

But I did it. For the cause. I did it because I wanted to reach people. My motives were pure.
So, why can't I embrace the emerging forms of worship? I feel guilty for not climbing on this next, new, postmodern, first-century bandwagon. Why can't I bring myself to rename our church "Journey" or "Flood" or "Vile Sinners Reunion"?

Honest, I have no trouble with candles—in their place. Which is on Christmas Eve. But every week? And not just one candle, but hundreds. Someone's going to get burned. Isn't this contributing to global warming? I know it makes me sweat.

Could everyone just sit down, please? All this movement makes me dizzy. Why do we have some standing, some sitting, some kneeling, some lying on the floor, some hands up, some hands all over my shoulders?

I've tried the Journaling Station. I sat on the little stool with an orange crayon in my hand and a blank place on the paper tablecloth in front of me. I scribbled a little, making crosses. I made three crosses. I made three crosses on a little hill. I put three little "V" shapes in the corner for birds. I wanted to be inspired and inspiring. I wanted to be enraptured with artistic worship. I wanted to be filled to overflowing with creative juices.

Maybe that's it, I thought. So I meandered over to the Creative Juices Bar and whispered an order for a raw mango and pineapple. Some chanting started, a kind of repeating the first line of Leviticus 18, "Say this to your people, 'I am the Lord, the Lord your God.'" I wondered if they'd be getting into further exegeses of the chapter when a conga-line came by and swept me up.

With one hand still clutching the smoothie, the other on the waist of a large guy with a buzz cut and no shoes, I was pulled into the line. How did I get here, dancing, off beat and out of touch?

I felt someone grab me and I was yanked out of line and put in a chair. Whatever was left of my smoothie had spilled around the room, so I was given a cup of water in his name. I sat, sweaty and dazed, and realized it was the pastor who had saved me. He sat, caring for me and staring at me, and he with piercings and tattoos and all features of this progressive, entrepreneurial, adventurous, cutting-edge movement. He smiled at me and pointed with grace toward the exit.

Many are called, few are chosen.

OK, God. I will go back to my Maranatha music, my three-point messages, my Kensington Community skits, my references to The Matrix. But I pray that one day, a hip, cool life form will crawl up from the ooze of my modern heart, and with slow, deliberate effort, emerge.

But first, please just let me keep this raw juice down.

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