“Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.” (Luke 13:10–13 NRSV)
Awhile back I did a Godly Play story during our meeting for worship. We invited the children to say with the adults and participate in our listening to the story. After the story we had our normal 15 minutes of silent, or waiting, worship. This is a description I wrote up and used that Sunday. I borrowed some ideas from my friend Chad Stephenson who is the librarian at the San Francisco Friends School where their students have meeting for worship during the school day.
Mind you this is just one attempt and there are things missing from here that I would like to say. I tried to connect it to the language of Godly Play since that’s what our kids are most used to. In trying to write up a description I was challenged to be concrete, simple and succinct in describing worship to our children. It is a good exercise for all of us to try.
As parents bringing children and teens to a time of worship can be a struggle. We place a lot of expectations on our kids and often hope they won’t “misbehave” during church. Plus, it is easy to succumb to their rowdiness, distraction and desire for entertainment. The last thing on earth most parents seem to want to hear from their kids is “I am bored.” The response often tends to turn our time of gathered worship into an opportunity to have free babysitting or shuffle them away to some place else, entertain them, or even give them a gadget that will hold their attention.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
(Hebrews 11:1 NRSV)
The time has come – it is long overdue – for a Christianity that is fresh and vital and in conformity with established truth, but, what is no less important, proves its reality by the test-tube method of corresponding results. Too long our Christianity has consisted of words – has begun and ended in words. We must have a Christianity that is self-demonstrative in results. Too long the Church has seen the world sag down to the pagan level and fight the wars which it has blessed and furnished youth to go out to fight, instead of being the organ of that divine love – that agape – which Christ lived and died to illustrate and transmit. And when these disastrous wars were over the Church has contented itself once more with pious words and talk instead of organizing a crusade of love to feed the hungry and rebuild the world on nobler lines. Every local church in Christendom ought to be a creative center of transforming life and love in its community…We should then have a Christianity of power and not one of ancient statements and present-day talk.
I rarely have vivid dreams but last night I had a dream that a random group of people followed me as I walked home. They shouted “hey boy,” I could hear them with chains clinking and baseball bats smacking their hands. They wanted to kill me.
I escaped by hiding behind a house. As they approached the house, I knocked on the back door and a woman answered. I whispered “A group of people are following me. They want to kill me.” Surprisingly she took me in. She shut and locked the door. Then she shut her blinds and provided a safe space for me until they were finally no where to be found.
I learned that she was school teacher. I also discovered as I put my shoes on to leave that her husband had the same shoes as me.
Then she drove me home to my wife who was very worried about me. Alas, I had forgotten my cell phone!
*Flickr image found here.
“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more I called them, the more they went from me; they kept sacrificing to the Baals, and offering incense to idols. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them.” (Hosea 11:1–4 NRSV)
This summer we are reflecting on the question how do we listen to God, and what happens to us when we do?
We have covered the topics of listing to God in Chaos, listening to God in the dynamic present, listening to God that moves us towards sympathy of the other person and last week Ashley Wilcox talked about a kind of listening to God that removes our fear.
Something that stood out to me about Ashley Wilcox’s message last week is that she said that some of us fear death and some of us fear life. And both of these fears are very real.
Our fear of death can be about where we go when we die, or if we go anywhere at all. It can be around the loss of loved ones. It can be about the death of our institutions, organizations, or even a way of life that we have become accustomed to.
Our fear of life is the fear of what might happen that we cannot control. The fear of what others might think of us. The fear of losing someone or something. The fear of not having enough. The fear of the toll of living. The fear of the big questions that go unanswered.
But Ashley said something else that has stuck with me. To paraphrase her, she said that convergent friends are friends who lean into both death and life with courage and perseverance.