Life out of balance...

When my children were confirmands in our urban Cleveland church, we completed the class by taking a three day trip to Washington, D.C. to visit the Church of the Savior. For the better part of a year these 5 young teens had met with lay mentors to read the gospel of Luke, learn about prayer, discern what faith meant to them at that point in their lives and to keep a journal. Now they were going with me - the pastor - for a three day urban retreat.

Each day we visited a different part of the city - learning about the various ministries of the Church of the Savior as well as other social realities of race and class in urban America - and at night we watched different films - one of which was Koyaanisqatsi - the Hopi word for "life out of balance." At the conclusion of the retreat experience, we returned to Cleveland for a night of prayer at the church. It was an intense year and the kids - my daughters included - created a powerful "confirmation worship" event during our last night together.

One of the things we did on that trip was visit the place where I experienced my call to ministry when I was 16 - the Potter's House - which was part art gallery, part old world coffee house, part church and part safe place for those spiritual people of the 50s and 60s who just didn't fit into the middle class churches of America. It has matured into a GREAT lunch place as well as a top notch independent religious bookstore - and it houses a variety of Church of the Savior worship communities throughout the week. In the summer of 1968, after Dr. King's assassination and riots in American cities, I clearly sensed the voice of the Lord calling me beyond the confines of my safe, suburban church into something like the Potter's House - and I've been trying to live into that calling for 27 years.

Go down to the potter's house and there I will let you hear my words... so I went down to the potter's house and saw him working at his wheel... and the word of the Lord came to me...

And now, as my current church gets ready to view and discuss this same movie next Monday, I am struck by how much more out of balance all our lives have become: global warming, culture wars, international acts of terror, the collapse of the middle class, technology run amok and so much more.

No wonder those young confirmands wanted to sing U2's "40" - they turned me onto it back then - and I'm still singing it now: "How long, o Lord, to sing this song?" as we ache and wait for your healing?

The GREAT thing about this version of "40" is how much the audience carries it - it is BOTH band and fans together - and U2 switch all their instruments, too, just to make sure we get the point that we're all in it together.


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