I come to you
In truth, only because
There is no where else to go.
You hold the words to life eternal
I fall to my knees
Nothing left to give
Surrounded by deafening silence
You hold the keys to death and hades
Forged in fire,
I lay the pieces of my life
on your altar
Waiting for fire,
a fire that consumes
falls from above
and burns the dross away
it burns me, too
burns deeper than I dreamed
a blaze that purifies
still I wait
with your healing waters
soothing away the agony
and at last
In the dead of winter, I’m curled up under a duvet in my living room, journals strewn around me, coffee cup in hand. It’s a similar process each year: read the last year’s musings, make space to reflect, to listen, to dream again.
Lately, it’s been one or two word phrases that seem to guide and define my years. There was create (in all its forms), then there was adventure. This time?
That’s it. Get closer, Emma. Get closer to God, to other people, to your dreams. Don’t hide, don’t shy away, but take a step forward, take a step closer to the life you want.
Not long before Christmas, I saw Bon Iver play in Glasgow. He’s on stage with the band and what seems like more instruments than a full orchestra, and all around people are swaying and nodding and being immersed in this experience. It’s busy, and there’s people crowding around me. A group of friends move in front of me, and suddenly there is a ponytail in my face. Swaying. Nodding. And a ponytail.
Maybe God is like that ponytail in the face. Moving towards the dreams he calls us to is often uncomfortable; it’s not always what we would chose. When we step towards him, he’ll call us to change. But that ponytail-in-the-face moment is always rewarded far beyond our wildest dreams – it’s just that sometimes it doesn’t look the way we thought it would.
“The Bible is by far the most fascinating, beautiful, challenging, and frustrating work of literature I’ve ever encountered. Whenever I struggle with questions about my faith, it serves as both a comfort and an agitator, both the anchor and the storm. One day it inspires confidence, the next day doubt. For every question it answers, a new one surfaces. For every solution I think I’ve found, a new problem will emerge. The Bible has been, and probably always will be, a relentless, magnetic force that both drives me away from my faith and continuously calls me home. Nothing makes me crazier or gives me more hope than the eclectic collection of sixty-six books that begins with Genesis and finishes with Revelation. It’s difficult to read a word of it without being changed.”
[Evolving in Monkey Town]
And that is one of the reasons Rachel Held Evans is fast becoming my new favourite writer.
What if the church saw organ donation and blood donation as part of its giving?
“Some of us wear our brokenness on the inside, others on the outside.
But we’re all broken.
We’re all un-cool.
We’re all in need of a Savior.
So let’s cut the crap, pull the plug, and have us some distracting church services… the kind where Jesus would fit right in.”
I strongly suggest you read this bitingly honest critique of ‘cool’ church from Rachel Held Evans.
I find myself torn when I think about these issues.
There’s a part of me that recognises we live in a media-saturated world where image and brand matters, and we owe it to Jesus to do everything we can to be the best, to strive for excellence in all we do.
There’s a part of me that depends on a salary from communications/ design daily for a living.
There’s a part of me that winces when the music is off-key and badly mixed.
There’s a part of me that knows design matters. Typography matters. Not using 10 different swirling and dissolving and sliding transitions in a slideshow matters.
And there’s a part of me that knows it doesn’t matter at all.
That Jesus never attended a brand strategy meeting.
There’s a part of me that remembers that Jesus was “nothing special to look at”, that very few people recognised him when he came to earth… and that that was his plan. (It wouldn’t have been my plan).
There’s a part of me that loves to hear kids making noise in the back of the service, knowing that they add to my experience of God and I to theres. That I see God in them.
There’s a part of me that loves it when everyone gets a chance to play, to bring their songs as an offering to God even if it’s not the most musically talented person.
I’ve been wrestling with this for a while now, and especially after one particular conversation with a friend I love and respect. Does everything we do (in churches, in Christian organisations) have to be “professional”? Are we losing something of Jesus in our search for professionalism? We are called to be distinctive, to strive for excellence – but to do it in a manner that honours God, reflects his values. What values are we reflecting in our quest for professionalism?
It seems to me that Jesus taught us that the way we do things matters as much as what we do.