Thursday, February 7, 2013

Stark Absentism

You know what my real problem is with all of this creating, don't you?  (See yesterday's post.)  It's that I try too hard to make things a little too real.  Because my idea of "perfect" is kind of God's idea of "good."

If, for instance, I decided to use an umbrella as a gimmick for experiential worship, my first thought is to figure out how to make it rain.  I will lay awake honestly more hours than I care to admit trying to figure out how to simulate the pavement, the clouds, the storm, and the rain.  When you walk into this holy moment I'm trying to invite you into, I want you to be there.  I want you walk in like that is really the thing.

Then it inevitably occurs to me that I haven't the slightest idea how to make it rain.  Not without some elaborate hook-ups and the church eldership on my back about ruined carpets.  More than that, I'm not even sure I can get the backdrop of "regular church" to go away.  You know, the purple carpets, the toys in the toddler room, the flowers and Bibles and pencils and all the stuff that goes into "church."

Which makes my job harder because I really, really want you to transcend the space and be in a wholly-other holy moment.

At some point, the image in my head shifts drastically.  I can't make it rain.  But what if you walk into the space I am creating and there is just an umbrella?

That's all.  Just an umbrella.  Maybe a few words.

What if that's all you got?

I think that's a holy moment.

It's a holy moment because it's not distracting.  It doesn't risk becoming about "not the thing."  While it makes perfect sense to have an umbrella when it's raining, it is when it's not raining that you get to bring your own storm.  It's when there is nothing else going on that you get to bring your own heart into it and fully engage with the opportunity at hand.

Engage the umbrella.  Engage your God.

The truth is that any holy moment is not so much about what is as what you bring into it.  It is about opening doors for you to bring your heart and still find Jesus.  It's about creating a space for you to have what you have and have a portion of God to go with it.  It's about inviting you to have your experience, not mine.

And it's about leaving no doubt that the wonder of the experience if what God is doing in you and not wondering how I managed to do that.

It doesn't change the goal too much, this stark absentism in place of elaborate realism.  It doesn't change what I'm trying to do; it humbles the arrogance with which I am doing it.  It makes me stop thinking I can create your moment, that everyone's holy is the same, and reminds me that my mission is only to create the space.  And that's still what I am trying to do.  When you walk into a holy moment I am trying to invite you into, I want you to be there.  I want you to have the fullness of the experience, and as cool as it would be for me to make it rain for you, that's not the thing.

The thing is what happens in a holy moment between you and God.  The thing is getting you to walk into that space and encounter God in such a powerful way that you are in a wholly-other holy moment.  The thing is getting you to let down your guard, bring your own rain, and engage.  The thing is getting you to understand what is really the thing.

And that is God.  God is the thing.

Maybe an umbrella.

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