Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Playing with Jesus

I was supposed to write about something different today but one rabbit hole led to another and it got so long that it will take a while to untangle it.  This one is more timely, anyway:

We live in relationships. There’s no escaping it. What we do here in the world with our lives and in the time allotted to us is a constantly changing assortment of relationships with other people and their lives. 

I am who I am because of who we are together.  What you say to me, what you do, no matter how small a word or action, changes my own life in some way. It could be a small and unnoticeable act-- like the butterfly flapping its wings in a remote forest that somehow changes the world climate. Make no mistake: everyone from your spouse to the Walmart cashier changes your life somehow.

I think of this as play.  And I love to play with others. I love crowds. I love being part of a team.  I even love being on committees. So when I lose a playmate it affects me. Playing isn’t the same for a while.

Our pastor is moving to Michigan this week to lead a new church. We will get a new pastor and everything at church will be fine. Jesus can pick up the slack for a while.  He's good that way.  But in this case it’s hard for me because  Anne has also been a friend. A real friend—someone I played with more often and more joyously than some of my other friends. Oh, and she’s even taking her husband with her. And I enjoy playing with him, too. So, it’s two playmates I’m losing here.

Michigan? Everytime I look at her new town on the map all I can see is that they might as well be moving to Canada. Look it up for yourself: Beulah, Michigan. Sheessh.

In the Presbyterian culture this happens all the time. Our pastors don’t get re-assigned and moved around willy-nilly the way the Methodists do it. Our congregations don’t get mad and fire pastors like the Baptists do. But Presbyterian pastors have a keen sense of when they have done all they can do, when they’ve used all the tricks in their bag, when it’s time to move on and play with new people and develop new ideas of how to play with Jesus.

That’s what pastors do. They help you play with Jesus. Playing with Jesus is the most important recreation a Christian ever does. Excuse me, Re-Creation. 

And I love to play with Jesus.  Especially when my friends join me. It seems like the more friends we get together, the more Jesus we have. Jesus always goes with us to Guatemala every year. He even goes to the Womens Retreat and plays with us there. Our congregation’s newest program is a free Community breakfast every Saturday. We had over a hundred people last week. And Jesus was there, sitting at a table eating with someone or in the kitchen helping make pancakes. In the bible, He said,, “Follow Me” but what I hear is “Come play with me.”

Sunday was Anne’s last worship service with us. There was a liturgy to dissolve our relationship with her as our pastor. (Whenever the Presbyterians do anything so special that it hurts, we make it very formal and come up with a liturgy for it. The fancy words bear our pain or excitement when real words would be just too intimate. We’re not too big on intimacy but we’re working on it.) Then we tied up some loose ends, installing a new elder and electing another one. It was Children’s Sunday so the elementary school kids helped lead worship with prayers and a fantastic Affirmation of Faith they had written.  Life goes on. Jesus is still in charge.

Jesus is still calling to us to play with Him, no matter who the pastor is.

As a gift to Anne the Angel Band sang a couple of songs. They’re almost like her personal band. They sang at her and David’s wedding a few years ago. So yesterday they sang one of her favorites, “One Voice.”

And it’s a song about how much fun it is to play with others. When you really get in the groove with the Holy Spirit, playing together becomes beautiful music, everyone doing their part of the notes, pushing the air across the vocal chords just right, with the rhythm just right.  Knowing each others' strengths and weaknesses, picking up the slack for the weak parts and highlighting the strong parts. When the Holy Spirit comes to sing with these girls they call it Five Part Harmony.



This is the sound of one voice.
One spirit, one voice.
The sound of one who makes a choice
This is the sound of one voice.

This is the sound of voices two
The sound of me singing with you
Helping each other to make it through
This is the sound of voices two

This is the sound of voices three
Singing together in harmony
Surrendering to the mystery
This is the sound of voices three

This is the sound of all of us
Singing with love and the will to trust
Leave the rest behind, it will turn to dust
This is the sound of all of us.

This is the sound of one voice
One people, one voice
The song for every one of us
This is the sound of one voice

Playing the guitar, weaving individual notes into one song, serving scrambled eggs and pancakes with seamless efficiency, building a Habitat house with eleven other churches, each team doing their own part making one house. Playing with Jesus.

Via con Dios, hermana Anne.  Thank you for coming to play with us. 

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