Since I have graduated from college, I have added a few instruments to my musical endeavors. You may have seen the photo of my hand drumming in an earlier post, or a photo of my sweet twelve-string which I have used to lead worship for two and a half years. Despite my love for music, walking in to an instrument store used to depress me.
Oh I loved the instruments and the shine and the sounds, but I was always held back by something. I couldn't see myself playing these great works of craftsmanship. As far as I was concerned, the precious instruments were always meant for somebody else, someone who had more time, more talent, more money to spend. I would never even look at the instruments that were at eye level, only those close to the floor or on the clearance rack. That's what I allowed myself to touch.
Then one day, just a short time ago, I lifted my eyes to the higher racks. In the panelled guitar room, my gaze lingered on a few of the more expensive guitars. I know how to play that now, I thought, I wonder how they sound compared to the guitar my brother handed down to me.
Up until that point, I had never allowed my gaze to linger on a guitar that was more than a couple hundred dollars. I knew that I would be safer thinking about something that logically would fit my pocket book. I should just stay where I am. I couldn't picture anything big for myself because of my family's financial background. On that day, however, something inside of me changed.
When I let myself see the craftsmanship of the more expensive brands, my imagination was fueled. As I slowly lifted a beautiful Taylor off the hook on the wall and cradled it on my knee, my heart began to pound. My fingers gingerly plucked the delicate strings. The sound was to my ears what hand crafted chocolate is to the tongue. It was like a fine wine or the gentle caress of my love on a summer's day.
In my mind's eye, I saw myself captivating thousands with my playing. In that moment my soul soared on the eagle's wings and a whole new perspective on life washed over me. Suddenly I was free. I was free to imagine myself in better housing, free to picture myself traveling to distant lands, free to embrace whatever blessings might come my way, knowing full well that I would be free to bless others as a result.
In that moment, holding the guitar I had never before allowed myself to touch, I was freed from the mindset of perpetual poverty. I cannot even begin to tell you what other doors this freedom has opened, but my imagination has been soaring to new heights. Slowing it down long enough to write a sensible post for you is a bit like trying to capture a swirling bird with an old school camera.
This experience with the guitar brings the church to mind. We have many things that we do not allow ourselves to imagine doing. Our individual congregations have lived in spiritual poverty for so long that we've forgotten what real life looks like. What does a vibrant, thriving church do? How do they interact with one another? We have been living in fear of one another for so long that our imaginations now fail us as we clutch helplessly at what we see as our last strings of existence. The gatherings in Jesus' name have become like the zombies in the works of George Romero.
Dear ones, take it from me, clutching our last pennies and holding on to the old ways of doing church is not the way to go. It comes from an impoverished view of our spiritual life together. We don't realize the value of what we have in our very midst. Jesus warns of throwing pearls before swine; the same is true for us zombies. The pearls of the Kingdom often get trampled or ignored in our attempt to preserve the present. Our Lord is calling us to a different way of living. Let us lift up our eyes and behold the treasure right in front of us.
|Photo by Trista Wynne|
The psalmist invites us to taste and see that the Lord is good.
Dear ones, let us taste! Let us touch! Let us gain our Lord's perspective!
Let us enter the open arms of our Beloved Christ and feel the embrace He has for the whole of creation. We are all welcome into the arms of Love. May we all come to see and to experience what that means, and may we offer such an open embrace to all whom we encounter, on this day, and forever, amen.