Church life is ALWAYS an emotional roller coaster...

Last week - call it a combination of shitty weather, a sick-wife, an accumulation of petty complaints and a periodic broken spirit - and I began to doubt whether I was supposed to stick it out in our work of renewal here in the beautiful Berkshires. Yes, I understand ups and downs. And to be sure I know that moving a church from the brink of closing back into viability is not an easy gig... but man I was really perplexed last week. REALLY perplexed.

Both Dianne and I wept some - we love this place and our new church - so we prayed a lot, too and came to a sense that perhaps it was time to shake the dust off our sandals and all the rest. And then SUNDAY happened - Palm Sunday - we had LOTS of people. And you could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in the music and the prayers and the preaching... and the WHOLE faith community. It was a mini-Pentecost and it was ALL of the Lord. Yeah, I did my work and preached hard and true; yes the musicians were focused; but the weather was still shitty so it wasn't just a blast of sunshine. It was God's spirit within and among us.

We held a somewhat sponataneous Eucharist afterwards - I was certain only a few people would hang out - and almost 100 people stayed. And they cared for one another, sang deeply and made the sharing of Christ's love palpable. As one young man said to me as he embraced me with gusto: "In my opinion, man, this BEATS standing in line for a little chunk of bread." Damn straight.

So as we were riding home, Dianne turns to me and says, "How come we have to get ready to move on before there is a sense that God is with us?" I wish I understood that one, too. But that seems to be the rhythm here - and the funny thing is it makes some sense. We are going for broke - striving to be a bold and radically inclusive community in the place that privilege and power once thrived - and we have to rely upon the Lord for these old bones to live.

I love the Ezekiel story: "Can these bones live, Ezekiel" saith the Lord? "Only THOU knowest, Lord, only thou knowest." Well then PROPHESY to those bones... and they began to move together and all the rest. Tonight we practiced for our Good Friday experiment in worship and music - a time of paradox, prayer and promise - using contemporary music, the old readings and post-modern art to reclaim the blessings and challenges of this sacred time - and it was a powerful and beautiful experience. The centerpiece of this worship, Joni Mitchell's song, "Passion Play," is a hard, jazzy conversational jam that moves each person through the life, death and crucifixion of Jesus with only the hint of resurrection. Sometimes ministry feels like Nina Simone's version of this old Bob Dylan song... do you know what I mean?

More than ever before, maybe I am starting to get that...
PS: sometimes people say I am waay too transparent in some of my notes but... over the years I have come to believe that being tender and open works best for me.

Comments

Luke said…
what a great story! i love that comment about the bread! that's what it's all about, community!

i've been going thru a bit of an Existential crisis myself.. it looks as if your's is ending and coming to fruition. wonderful! i hope to post about mine in the near future.

this was a great thing to read. thanks for posting! being open and transparent is always the best way to proceed!
RJ said…
I hope so, Luke. It feels like the truth of Easter is becoming more flesh among us. Are you hanging tough? This is a demanding and brutal business. Know you are in my prayers.

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