Church: Not What I’m Supposed to Do
I just read a short article in a subscription I receive called Journal for Preachers. It was about whether bad singers should be allowed in church choirs. As I was reading it my mind jumped to a conversation I had years ago with my father. We were talking about the idea of “passionate worship.” My father said that the definition for him of passionate worship is that he is actually willing to sing the hymns.
My father married the daughter of a musician (and church organist) who is herself a wonderful vocalist and then they preceded to give birth to 4 kids all of whom did multiple musical things from choirs to bands to musicals growing up – and now the grand-kids as well. But my dad is not what you would call “musically inclined.” He confessed that he knew he didn’t have a anything close to a good voice but if he felt like everyone was singing such that no-one would hear him then he would actually sing. This was – to his mind – passionate worship, when the experience of worship overcomes his natural inhibitions.
So my head is connecting various dots (as my head is wont to do particularly when I have some administrative task I really need to be doing). I’m reminded of a piece by Greg Jones on holy friendship (a subject he talks about in various places including here) in which he says one of the great gifts of the church is that it gives us the opportunity to become friends with people we otherwise might never meet because we have nothing else in common.
Again… I’m struck by a theme there. There is something about church that connects us, not with what we want, but with what we never knew we needed. Sometimes our spiritual journeys presume that it should be dictated by our wants and needs, our gifts and talents. But it may be that such compatibility is an idol that keeps us from a deeper sense of community and a more whole sense of our own identity.
We are ready to limit our experience on our predetermined satisfaction. But what if our community of faith (be a church or some other entity) didn’t connect us in with the right places, people, and opportunities… but instead helped us to let go of the whole notion of “right?” It encourages us to foster abilities we didn’t think we had, connects us to people we didn’t think we had anything in common with, and calls upon us to passionately engage tasks that we previously thought joyless or “beyond me.”
The community isn’t about compatibility with what I already know about myself, but people and experiences that put me in touch with parts of myself I haven’t yet come to know. And our calling, your calling, isn’t necessarily about what you are good at, or even what you most want to do, but it’s a calling to something that is – as of now – outside of your experience. So it is that Moses, who might just be the least capable and least willing person to call to rescue the Israelites from Egypt, is also the perfect choice. Because no-one else has as much learn about himself, and as much personal healing with his own past to undergo in that journey than Moses did. Moses needs the Israelites as much, if not more, than they needed him.
So how is God calling you out from your own comfortable compatibility to learn and grow in the community of faith?