Okay, straight up - I'm not big on "arts and crafts".
Oh, I get it alright, I just don't enjoy the process. But I do:
- Love the way Rebekah always does a hands-on family "project" with all the nieces and nephews and hangers-on every Thanksgiving after The Big Eat.
- Believe that scrap-booking is modern folk-art at its best.
- Think that our annual "Advent Adventures" crafty-afternoon at church is always the most fun; I show up, I work the room, I watch people unwittingly glue themselves to small children... it's all good.
I'm a craft-watcher more than a craft-doer as a rule. But this morning I got sucked in, and the consequence was both interesting and informative. You can see the result in the above photograph, and there would be extra pictures but my lap-top is giving me trouble and I can't paste in more than one image till I'm back at my mac on my desk.
It was my "clergy-spouse class" at the Montreat Conference. And the exercise was designed to illustrate the complexities of inter-related (but not necessarily correlated) people and priorities and personalities and agendas and axes-to-grind that make up the typical church group-dynamic.
I immediately got the conversation somewhat off track when I said, "Wow, that's really pretty!" It wasn't supposed to be pretty, it was supposed to look complex, jumbled, disorganized and hard to unravel. It was certainly all of that, but at the same time it was an awesome representation of how beautiful such complexities can be.
So I thought about the people back home in First Presbyterian Church of Brandon. You know, the young families, the retirees, the middle aged, the young adults; the conservative, the liberal, the reactionary, the moderate; the socially active, the reclusive, the advocates for social justice, the tea-party inclined; the poor, the comfortable, the backs-to-the-wallers; the fighters, the peace-makers; the fearful; the generous, the healthy, the sick, the at-risk, the needy; the people of all colors, the people who see no color; the seekers, those who feel at home, those who doubt, those who ask questions, those who know no answers; the PhD, the grade-school drop-out; the laborer, the business owner; the bankrupt; the disillusioned; the confident; the secure, the angry, the hurt, the grieving, the insensitive, the...
Every one of them a sinner like me. All standing in need of redemption. All standing in the presence of redemption. All coming together on a Sunday morning to worship in spirit and in truth.
And I felt so thankful for each one of them. Even old so-and-so... Sir Full-of-himself... Mr. Pontificate... Mrs. Think-like-me... and even Ms. Whine-a-lot.
They are - we are - the intricacy and the often anxious mess that speaks of the Kingdom of God, or at least our incarnation of the work in progress. They're not easy, and sometimes they make life more difficult than beautiful, and sometimes they will move on to another community because we simply don't/can't/won't measure up. But that's alright, I guess.
It's alright because that is exactly why we are here; why we have been called into leadership. Not to make everyone feel comfortable or - God forbid - right. But to make us all aware that we do have a place; that we do have the confidence to stand in the presence of God together. To be a community of faith.
Messy. Impractical. Loved.
In love - DEREK