Thursday, April 10, 2014

Changing Holy Diapers

“Treasure each and every one of these moments, they go by so quickly.” 

What parent hasn’t heard this?  Usually from an older adult, and often when your child is having a melt down in the check out line at the Costco.  

It’s a truth no one can deny, and is often not helpful.

“It just feels like so much pressure,” one mother confided to me at church.  “Not every moment as a parent is actually cherish-able.”

Couple of things for all of us to consider then. 

Unsolicited advice; it’s usually more about the one giving it than the one getting it.  If you have the urge to give advice no one has asked for, no matter how sound, it’s probably a good opportunity for self reflection.  Who are we really speaking to? 

To the other point. 

Can you love your child without being crazy about everything having your child entails?  Like wiping noses, dirty diapers, or scraping peas off the ceiling?  

Well yes.  Of course.  Unless sleep deprivation has you a little punchy.  Being less than enamored with every aspect of parenting is pretty typical, and doesn’t mean you’re a deficient mom or dad. 

Parents in the midst of actually raising their child, often don’t make or take the time to see the big picture.  Then, out of the blue, they’ll see their child sleeping angelically and be stopped dead in their tracks at the sacredness and beauty of their child and this enterprise they’ve been called to as parents.  

Then the kid wakes up and it’s time to change another diaper.

There’s a wonderful book by Jack Kornfield called, “Enlightenment, Then The Laundry.”  The title says it all.  

Gradually, the realization dawns that these magical moments don’t really come out of the blue.  They come from all those mundane tasks that seem like drudgery.

It’s like a necklace. You can see it as individual beads, and judge the merits of each bead.  Or, you can let your perception sink deeper.  To the thread that holds them all together.   Voilá.  The necklace comes into view. 

So much of our lives are spent in dualistic thinking, judging each bead.  Prayer, contemplation, meditation, teaches us a unitive way of seeing.  It doesn’t mean we don’t have to change any more diapers.  It means that even the diapers we change are opportunities of grace.   Vehicles to a sacredness that surrounds us, all our lives.  

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Taking Worship Public

We’ve been trying something a little different for Lent this year.  Instead of scrambling to make soup, eat supper in the church basement and then have a worship devotion, our midweek Lenten devotion has gone public. 

Each Wednesday, we’ve met in a local restaurant, eaten a meal, shared readings, table discussion based on a Scripture passage, and been home in time for young kids (and old pastors) to be in bed.  

It took awhile for this idea to gel.  Finding the right spot was important.  Someplace that can seat 10 or so together to allow easy discussion.  So it can't be too noisy.   Diners work well.  Or a family restaurant.  Even a fast food restaurant can work.  Though they tend to be on the noisy side and tough for people with hearing issues.  Then there’s the ethical issue of patronizing profitable fast food chains paying an “un-living” wage to their employees. 

All of that was considered as we chose places to meet.  Once you find the right venue, you might be surprised by some of what you’ll discover.  Here’s what we found.

Taking our worship public has had two particular advantages:

It frees up time for working families to enjoy a devotional focus at midweek.  Getting the evening meal together for the family can be challenging enough.  Preparing a meal for up to 10 extra people, not to mention lugging it to church, the set up and clean up, was becoming a pressured event that achieved the exact opposite of what we were aiming for with a midweek devotion.  Going public changed all that.

The opportunity of being the church in public.  Our presence in the restaurant is a tacit invitation to the other diners to join us.  Or at least, listen in and consider the conversation.  I notice that our conversation, and indeed, our entire time together, has a more relaxed feel to it.  More natural and spontaneous.   That was a kind of an unexpected bonus. 

It's important then to make a sign identifying who you are and inviting others to join you.  And don’t structure the program too much.  Allow the Spirit room to work, enjoy the company of your church family and the presence of God among you, and know that you are almost certainly making an impression on the people around you as well as nurturing your own faith.