Blog Tour 2018:What Are You Seeking … Really?

Peter Horne - pic 01I’ve been invited to participate in a a blog tour! Over the next several weeks, I’ll be sharing posts from a variety of bloggers as we reflect on Jesus’ still-important question, “What are you seeking?”

This first post is from Peter Horne. Peter moved to the United States from Australia in 1999 to pursue training for ministry. Having filled the roles of children’s minister, youth minister, and college minister in various locations around the US and Australia, he now gladly serves as the minister for the Lawson Rd Church of Christ in Rochester, NY. You can find more of his writing on his blog: www.aussiepete.wordpress.com. He also writes to equip multi-ethnic churches at www.culturalmosaic.org.

Be sure and check out Peter’s other work!

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Several weeks ago I was having a conversation with someone about worship. Suddenly, it dawned on me how much my thought process differed from other worshipers.  

  1. There are some people who come to church each week asking “Will they sing the songs I like?” “Will the sermon meet my needs?” “Will my friends by there?” “Will my prayers be answered?” “Will my life be improved?”
  2. Then there’s another group of people who come wondering who God will bring this week. They’re praying for opportunities to speak encouragement into someone’s life. They’re looking around for people they can meet and serve, and hoping that some first time guests will attend this week.

At first glance I hope that #2 seems more spiritual, more godly, more mature. Generally speaking, I agree. But generalisations have exceptions. We should bear in mind that we all have times in our lives where we need to receive rather than give. We need to be served rather than serve. Additionally, at some point almost all of us walked through the doors of a church as guests with a list of questions asking whether this was the right church for us.

We were seekers seeking.

Some of us knew what we seeking. Others found the object of our search only when we stumbled upon it. We were all seeking.

Jesus asked a crowd of people a similar question in Matthew 11:2-15. Jesus’ cousin John has been imprisoned by Herod and sends messengers to Jesus. It seems that John wants confirmation that his ministry and now suffering were for the right reason, that they were worthwhile and that they mattered.

Jesus responds by giving a list of examples from his ministry, such as “the blind can see” that can be connected to messianic prophecies in the book of Isaiah such as Is 61:1-3. But then he turns to the crowd and asks this important question:

“Who did you go out into the wilderness to see?”  Who were you seeking?

Matthew 3:5 records that, “People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan river.” That’s a lot of people going to see and hear John the Baptizer. Now, some years later Jesus asks, “Who did you go out into the wilderness to see?”

He gives some choices: “Was it a reed, blown in the wind, waving this way and that?” “Was it someone in fine linens who’d make your life more comfortable and prosperous?” “Or did you go to see a prophet.”

Jesus knew well that people came to see him for a variety of reasons: Entertainment, financial gain, truth seeking, overthrowing the Romans, or protecting the status quo.

This blog series challenges us to reconsider our motives as we follow Jesus.

  • Do we participate in his kingdom out of obligation or passion?
  • Does our status as adopted children of God seem real to us, or a theoretical concept?
  • Do we worship to please others, or because we love God?
  • Do we desire to participate in expanding the borders of God’s kingdom, or do we like our church the way it is?
  • Do we long to grow our relationship with God, or are we comfortable with our current level of knowledge and commitment?

What are you seeking? Really?

Imagine you had the opportunity to interview Jesus like you might interview the leader of a church you’re considering attending. What would you ask him?

  • Jesus, will my relationship with God be restored if I follow you?
  • Jesus, will my relationship with my husband be restored if I follow you?
  • Jesus, will my family finally accept me if I follow you?
  • Jesus, how much (or little) money do I need to give you to make you happy?
  • Jesus, will I still get to do the things I really enjoy doing?
  • Jesus, can I keep my friends?
  • Jesus, how much time will I need to give you each week?

Without putting on your holy hat, what would you ask Jesus? What are you seeking… really? Will you take 10 minutes and make your list? When you’ve done that, pray over it. Read it to Jesus and see how the Holy Spirit moves your mind.

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Blog Tour 2018:What Are You Seeking … Really?

Morning Prayer

Since the new year, the practice of praying with a liturgy has been a life saver for me. Having grown up in a tradition that values free-form, “in the moment” prayer, a season of set times of structured prayer has helped give voice to my prayer life, particularly in a season when I wasn’t sure what to say. Here’s my current morning liturgy. Whenever possible, I like to spend this time with God while walking a four mile route in our neighborhood where I can pray slowly, reflectively, and interspersed with periods of silence. It is also worth noting that I maintain most of the plural language as I am praying with and for a community of God’s people as Christians gather the world over to share in morning prayer.

Almighty and most merciful Father, we have sinned and have strayed like lost sheep, offending against your holy laws.

We have not done things we ought to have done. We have done things we ought not have done. There is no health in us.

Have mercy, Lord, for we are miserable sinners. Spare us as we confess to you. Restore us as we turn back to you, in accordance with the promises you made through Jesus Christ our Lord.

And grant, O God, for his sake, that from this time forward we would live lives that are godly, holy and sober for the sake of your holy name.

Amen.

________

God the Father, have mercy on me a sinner. 

God the Son, have mercy on me because I am part of the brokenness of the world. 

God the Spirit, have mercy on me because I need your renewal. 

In your mercy, hear my prayer:

From all selfish desires; from pride, vanity, and hypocrisy; from envy, hatred, and malice; from all evil intents; in your mercy, Lord, rescue us. 

From laziness, worldliness, and the love of money; from hardness of heart and contempt for your word and laws; from seeking our own aims and glory rather than your kingdom; in your mercy, Lord, rescue us. 

From sins of the body and mind; from the lusts of the flesh, the world, and the devil; in your mercy, Lord, rescue us. 

_________

Lord, open our lips and our mouths shall proclaim your praise. O, Lord make speed to save us. O God, make haste to help us. 

Glory to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. 

________

(Here, I usually meditate on one Psalm every week or two. This week has been Psalm 57.)

________

I believe in God the Father, creator of heaven and earth. 

I believe in Jesus Christ, his Son and our Lord. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate. He was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day, he was raised again. He has ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. 

I believe in the Holy Spirit. 

I believe in the holy catholic church, in the fellowship of saints, in the forgiveness of sins, in the resurrection of the body, and in the life everlasting. 

Amen. 

________

Our Father in heaven, may your name be hallowed today. Your kingdom come; your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, now and forever.

Amen.

________

I arise today by a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity. Through a belief in the threeness. Through a confession of the oneness of the Creator of all that has been created. 

I arise today in the strength of Christ’s birth with his baptism. Through his crucifixion with his burial. Through his resurrection with his ascension. Through his descent for the judgment of doom. 

I arise today in the strength of the love of cherubim; in the obedience of angels; in the service of archangels; in the hope of resurrection met with reward; in the prayers of patriarchs; in the predictions of prophets; in the preaching of apostles; in the faith of confessors; in the innocence of holy virgins; in the deeds of righteous women and men.

I arise today in the strength of heaven; through the light of the sun; through the radiance of the moon; through the splendor or fire; through the speed of lighting; through the swiftness of wind; through the depth of seas; through the stability of the earth; through the firmness of the earth.

I arise today in God’s strength to pilot me; in God’s might to uphold me; in God’s wisdom to guide me; in God’s eyes to see before me; in God’s ears to hear me; in God’s word to speak for me; in God’s hand to hold me; in God’s shield to protect me; in God’s hosts to save me from the snares of the devil.

I arise today, O God, in a world that is saturated with your presence and glory. This is your creation and I live and have my being in your story. May I live today in the strength of that reality. 

Amen. 

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Christ Jesus, meek and humble of spirit, in your mercy, hear my prayer:

From my desire to be esteemed; from my desire to be loved; from my desire to be extolled; from my desire to be honored; from my desire to be praised; from my desire to preferred to others; from my desire to be consulted; from my desire to be approved – in your mercy, Jesus rescue us. 

From my fear of being humiliated; from my fear of being despised; from my fear of suffering rebuke; from my fear of being maligned; from my fear of being forgotten; from my fear of being ridiculed; from my fear of being wronged; from my fear of being suspected – in your mercy, Jesus rescue us. 

So that others may be loved more than I am loved. So that others may be esteemed more than I am esteemed. So that, in the opinion of the world, others may increase while I decrease. So that others may be chosen while I am left aside. So that others may be praised while I go unnoticed. So that others may be preferred to me in all things. So that others may be holier than I, provided I am as holy as you would have me to be. 

Lord Jesus, in your mercy, give me a heart that desires these things. 

Amen. 

________

God of all creation, full of love and abounding in mercy, may the whole earth be filled with your glory. 

Guide and bless the ministers of your church; clothe us in righteousness and grant us wisdom. 

Direct the leaders of our nation and world that they may act in accordance with your kingdom.

Enlarge our own hearts, Lord, to love the things you love. Sharpen our vision to see the world as you see it and to see you as you truly are, revealed in Christ. 

May we reflect your light in every place where there is darkness. 

May we proclaim your holy name in every aspect of our lives. 

Create in us clean hearts, O God, and take not your Holy Spirit from us. 

Grant us your peace, for only in you can we live in safety. 

Amen. 

Morning Prayer

Call Me Fallacious

Some time back, I was in this confusing and exciting time in my life when God was leading me out of my theological comfort zone into something richer. (He’s always been doing this, of course, but this was one of those intensely formative seasons that shine in my memory like a hot flame.) During this time, I had been prompted to think more deeply about the practical and ethical implications of following a crucified God and in typical fashion, I preached a series of messages on the topics of Jesus and his cross. Nearly three quarters of the way through this series, a member of the church approached me and firmly told me I needed to preach “less Jesus and more Paul.”

This was not a particularly new concept to me. I am steeped in a tradition that occasionally holds those who focus on the gospels with deep suspicion. More to the point, many of my experience seemed afraid that thusly emphasizing Jesus would undermine the complex, perilously built arguments we had made about “sound doctrine” from the epistles. Thus, those who granted undue importance to the gospels were often labeled “change agents.” (Indeed, it wasn’t long after this man approached me that I was labeled similarly.) Some would even go so far with this view as to argue that Jesus’ teachings and actions were not normative for Christians because he lived under an older dispensation while we live under the new one. It was, in this view, Paul that counted where ethical living was concerned.

What struck me that day, during this formative season of my life, was that I had been preaching from Paul. Back in the day, I did handouts for every sermon and I happened to have a copy of each from the series I was preaching. I pulled them out and asked the man to look them over. Where were my texts from?

I’ll tell you. They were from Paul.

Even this week, I encountered a respected scholar from my heritage that argues against holding this “christological fallacy.” We can’t see the gospels – or Jesus’ teachings and life – as more authoritative than any other part of Scripture. Those who do so, the argument goes, are trying to get away with something: to undermine doctrine, or discredit some part of inspiration, or some other such nefarious nonsense.

But, let me suggest that my happy adoption of such a fallacy came about precisely because I took the authority of Scripture seriously. (I often remind people that I am only as “liberal” [whatever that means] as I am because I was raised to take the Bible seriously.) It is, after all, the witness of Scripture that leads one to place Jesus’ life and teachings at the center of how we understand what God is teaching us in Scripture. Jesus becomes the lens through which we interpret Scripture at the insistence of Scripture itself.

It is Paul who incessantly preached the crucified Lord. (And, might I suggest, that if we read Paul as primarily talking about anything other than Jesus, we’re reading him wrong.) It is Paul that would spend the opening chapters of nearly every one of his letters discussing the meaning of Jesus’ life, teachings, and actions before drawing ethical applications with an important therefore. (That is, he says, “I’m going to talk to you about how to live on the basis of all this talk about Jesus we’ve been having.”) It is Paul who gives us the rich, practical language of Christ-likeness.

And, this isn’t even to begin discussing all the ways the other writers of the New Testament insist on the same emphasis. Nor is it to begin discussing the beautiful, complex dance between the Jesus and the Hebrew Bible, which at the same time gives us context for understanding Jesus and demands re-interpretation through a christological lens because of Jesus.

I say all of that to stake out this claim: if it is a fallacy to see Jesus – his life and his teachings – as the absolute, defining center of how I understand both Scripture and my life, call me fallacious.

I’ve been called worse.

Call Me Fallacious

Too Poor to Be Thrifty

I’ve noticed that it’s significantly harder to be thrifty or healthy or to improve oneself for those who are poor.

That giant pack of toilet paper at Costco is cheaper per roll, but when you only have $5 and you need toilet paper, deodorant, and shampoo, you’re going to have to pay more to get that $0.99 four pack.

When you have mouths to feed and a tight budget, the dollar menu at McDonalds or that pack of Ramen noodles will go a lot farther than apples, oranges, and organic, free range chicken.

I recently had a friend who had a mix-up with their financial aid. I should point out, this was entirely an administrative mix-up. The upshot of it was, part of their financial aid would not be processed by the time the payment was due (though it would eventually be processed) and their classes would be dropped because of an outstanding balance. What was the balance? $150. But, that’s a lot of money when you don’t have it. This is a person working hard to make a better way forward and they stood to be delayed for a semester for a lack of $150.

In a very real way, people in these situations often can’t afford to do better.

Having spent most of my adult life working in very poor communities, I’m suggesting these are the sorts of dynamics we rarely consider or appreciate unless we are poor.

Too Poor to Be Thrifty

My Wife, Conqueror

 

Death has been swallowed up by a victory.
         Where is your victory, Death?
        Where is your sting, Death?

(Death’s sting is sin, and the power of sin is the Law.) Thanks be to God, who gives us this victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! As a result of all this, my loved brothers and sisters, you must stand firm, unshakable, excelling in the work of the Lord as always, because you know that your labor isn’t going to be for nothing in the Lord.

~ 1 Corinthians 15:54-58

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, he also shared the same things in the same way. He did this to destroy the one who holds the power over death—the devil—by dying. He set free those who were held in slavery their entire lives by their fear of death.

~ Hebrews 2:14-15

For those who were there or are willing to look, it’s no real secret that a few years ago my wife attended the annual Women’s March in Austin with a friend. Her reasons for going are somewhat less known. In many cases, this is because those who took notice of her presence at the march were considerably less interested in hearing her reasons for attending than they were their own assumptions about why she went. Then, as now, our nation and church situates themselves in a place where nuance, complexity, and depth are often lost to the more blunt and vulgar narratives of partisan politics, of elephants and donkeys.

In the weeks after the march, I was frequently asked why she marched. (It is telling that, so far as I know, no one bothered to ask her why she marched.) As if she only went because I had given her my permission, I was grilled as to why I was okay with her (a Christian!) participating in the Women’s March when there was so much sinful stuff happening around her. Why didn’t she leave when she saw how bad it was? My answer, of course, was because my wife takes communion.

The table is the place where we gather every week as racists, bigots, adulterers, liars, thieves, addicts, idolaters, hypocrites, gossips, gluttons, greedy opportunists, abusers, rabble rousers, drunks, and law breakers. We gather as those who are prideful, judgmental, accusatory, stubborn, lustful, angry, spiteful, apathetic, contentious, self-righteous and … well, you can imagine how this list could go on and on and on …

What’s more: Each Sunday, I find myself at more places on that list than I care to admit.

And God has made room for all of us messy, broken people at his table, redeeming us in the middle of that messiness. God reminds us of who he is at his table. He is the one who left heaven to wade into the messiness of our existence. And, he is the one who sends us out from the table, into his messy world.

So, it’s no more shocking nor objectionable to me when my wife would follow him into the middle of it all at the Women’s March than it was when a group of ladies from a former congregation decided a few years back to follow Jesus into the middle of it all and minister to strippers in their dressing rooms.

This is to say that, for my wife, it was theological. It was christological and pastoral. It was not political in any modern sense of the word. Here’s what I’m suggesting:

What happens if you begin without the assumption that the only way of making change was via the government or the assumption that the only purpose of marching was to try and force the government to change? (Because, you know – you don’t believe change is contingent on the government.) What if, instead, you believed that the way to make change in the world was to follow in the way of the kingdom by building relationships rooted in the sort of love God demonstrated in the person of Jesus?

Why would you march? One reason might be that reimagining our assumptions as described above leads to the possibility of marching for someone rather than against something or someone. It opens the possibility of the act being more about saying to others, “I hear you in your darkness,” rather than saying to the government, “I demand you listen to my voice.” If you reconfigure your imagination in this way, it doesn’t matter so much why other people are walking down the street next to you. In fact, your individual presence in the march is probably politically insignificant on a national, state, regional, or local level – even if you are marching against someone or something. But relationally, the act stands to carry great power for the loved one struggling in the darkness whom you have marched for.

This marching for, this symbolic act of solidarity and advocacy, driven by the love Christ had shown her, a love she intended to share with others regardless how the partisan among our community would react, this marching for is why she was there. And she was seen. Not only by those who whispered against her, caring for their assumptions more than her reality, but also by those who were hurting. Those who were holding the darkness inside, too ashamed to tell their story – to step into the light – lest people think them sullied or irredeemable or somehow deserving of the sins thrust upon them by their abusers. She marched for them and they saw and it opened a door, however small the crack, for healing.

I say this because she needs to be seen. Often, people will only see the quiet woman who is so inundated with our brood at worship she can seem aloof. Others will never look past her blue hair and tattoos. Others still will look at her, see she is not a good Republican, and lean into unfortunate assumptions. What they miss is the deep strength and character the Spirit has formed in my wife. What they miss is the passionate advocacy she offers for those on the margins. What they miss is her determination to use her voice for those who have been denied theirs.

Having been set free from the fear of death, she uses her freedom to bring others into the healing and love Jesus has given her. And, in doing this, she has taught me more about what it means to follow Jesus than any fifty teachers and preachers I’ve had in my life.

My favorite of her many tattoos is the one on the back of her neck. It is the seal of the Moravian Church. The seal depicts the Slaughtered Lamb carrying the banner of the cross. Around the edges are the words, “Vicit agnus noster, eum sequamur.

“Our Lamb has conquered. Let us follow him.”

Amen.

PS: You really should check out her new post about why she advocates for rape and abuse victims. You can find it here.

My Wife, Conqueror

A Sacramental Imagination

I continue to pray and meditate on St. Patrick’s “Breastplate” as a part of my morning liturgy. (I like to commit these prayers to memory and just as playing a scale becomes the backbone of an improvised solo, these prayers become the skeleton of further prayer over time. “Breastplate” is a long prayer, so I’ve been taking it in chunks.)

One of the things the prayer does splendidly is to develop one’s “sacramental imagination.” That is, it helps us develop a sense that the world around us is much more than what we can sense physically and (most importantly) the whole creation is saturated with the glory of God. Using the language of Charles Taylor, it is and “enchanted” creation. It’s sacramental because it sees God and his hosts working in and through the physical world.

Heres’s a key passage (from what I’ve memorized so far), slightly altered, as I use it:

I arise today in the strength of the love of cherubim;
in the obedience of angels,
in the service of archangels,
in the hope of resurrection, met with reward,
in the prayers of patriarchs,
in the predictions of prophets,
in the preaching of apostles,
in the faith of confessors,
in the innocence of holy virgins,
in the deeds of righteous men and women.

I arise today through the strength of heaven:
through the light of the sun,
through the radiance of the moon,
through the splendor of fire,
through the speed of lightning,
through the swiftness of wind,
through depth of seas,
through the stability of the earth,
through the firmness of rock.

I arise today through God’s strength to pilot me,
through God’s might to uphold me,
through God’s wisdom to guide me,
through God’s eyes to watch before me,
through God’s ears to hear me,
through God’s word to speak for me,
through God’s hand to guard me,
through God’s shield to protect me,
through God’s hosts to save me …

From beginning to end, the “Breastplate” sees a world that is so much bigger than the disenchanted world of modernity. It is a world populated by spiritual beings and the great host of the faithful watching over us and cheering us on (e.g. Hebrew 11-12). We can arise through the strength of the sun and moon and sea and rock because those things aren’t far from God. They are his creation and he is active in it. It is a world in which God actively walks with us and his hosts protect over us.

As I taught my kiddos this last part, we talked about what God’s host was. As a part of it, we talked about that time when the prophet Elisha was surrounded by the Syrian army. Befuddled by his calmness, Elisha’s servant asked why he wasn’t upset. In response, Elisha prayed for his servant’s eyes to be opened and he saw the Syrian army, surrounded by the hosts of God.

Patrick’s “Breastplate” draws me back into a world where that sort of thing is possible. It is a bigger world. It is a weirder world. It is also a world charged with the splendor of God and I am blessed to be in it.

A Sacramental Imagination

Change, Anxiety, and What Defines Us

I’ve spent most of my eighteen years in ministry weathering occasional accusations that I am an agent of change. In some ways, that’s true, though it’s never nearly so nefarious, exotic, or daring as my accusers make it out to be.

But, here’s my not-so-secret secret. I hate change. Change makes me anxious.

I’ve been in a peculiar place in life over the last 18 months. Due to … um … events, nearly everything has been in flux for my family. I mean, we are just starting to show signs of settling into something remotely resembling stable. I’m not complaining, by the way. I am simply highlighting that everything has felt uncertain. And with that fluidity, the urge for nostalgia has been strong.

I’ve been a gamer all my life. I remember the excitement of Christmas morning when my parents gave my brother and I our first Nintendo. I remember (with a little embarrassment) losing two weeks of a summer to beating The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. I actually cried a little when I first played Super Mario 64 and I somehow lost four or five hours one night after Michelle bought me Fallout 4 for Christmas a few years back. You get the idea.

But, since moving back to Tennessee my love for gaming has intensified. I’m not really playing more – in fact, most of the time, I’m playing less – but it has become a place of deep comfort, particularly as I go back and play the games of my childhood on the NES and SNES re-releases. There is something profoundly stabilizing about playing games with my kids in the house I grew up playing games in.

As a gamer, one of my favorite podcasts is IGN Game Scoop. Each week, a group of game industry journalists (mostly in their thirties and forties) get together and talk about gaming and the gaming industry. They talk about new games, upcoming games, and old games. At the beginning of each month, they go back to one of the old gaming magazines of the 90’s – Nintendo Power or Electronic Gaming Monthly – and check out what was going on back in the day. These are magazines I had stacked in the corner of my bedroom – the room where my sons now sleep. You can see why I like this show.

But recently, I’ve noticed I feel actual anxiety when they talk about how games like Fortnite or Minecraft are changing the way the industry thinks about games. Or, when they talk about the likelihood of a streaming-only console in the near future.

You don’t have to know anything about gaming to get where I’m coming from here. (You don’t even have to understand my passion for gaming; I don’t need to understand your passion before I can appreciate its importance to you.) All you have to know is that FortniteMinecraft, and cloud-based gaming represent major departures from the way gaming worked when I was a kid.

It is change and I don’t like it. I don’t know why I don’t like it (although I do). I know that my not liking it is not particularly rational. I mean, some of the changes will actually make gaming better. But, I don’t like it!

Which is to say, when people get upset over some change or the other at church, I get it. I get it more and more every day. In a world where everything changes so rapidly, it can be disconcerting when this thing that has been an important part of your life, this constant point of reference in the storms of cultural upheaval, begins to change along with everything else. I see why you’re upset. I hear your concern. You have a friend in me, because four decades in, I find a lot of things I thought were steady slipping away and I sometimes grasp for something – anything – familiar and constant and comforting. But, I’ve also found value in using my anxieties as opportunities for self-reflection because in the economy of God’s kingdom, anxiety almost always points to something worth bringing to light.

Why does this sort of change make me anxious?

The easy answer is to say that it is precisely because things like video games and the way I worship are important to me, that they give me a sense of stability, and when someone starts to mess with those things it is disorienting. But, that’s the problem. Whether I’m leaning on church or video games or whatever in such times, I’m leaning on something that can’t bear that kind of weight. They will inevitably let me down. Change is inevitable – whether that is because a new generation of gamers come up with new sensibilities, or because they come into church thinking what I’ve always called “youth songs” were just songs one sang in worship, or because of any of a million other reasons.

Nor should I expect these things bear such a weight. Particularly, when I begin to lean on an expression of worship, a program, or a tradition for comfort in times of uncertainty, I quickly find I’ve turned it into something it was never intended to be. When I demand we all sing my songs, wear what think is appropriate to wear, use the translation I have always used, preach in the style am accustomed to, and work in the ministries I am passionate about, I have reformed God’s church in my image. And, in doing that I have made my vision of the church a god, a false idol, presuming it can provide what I’m looking for. But, it won’t. It’ll let me down every time, and God only knows how many others I may push away in the trying.

The facts are that sometimes change is not only inevitable, but is needed, and when that time comes my comfort simply isn’t the highest priority. I don’t like that, but I’ve committed myself to the reign of Jesus, so I’ve got to come to grips with it, in the endtrusting that he really is enough to sustain me as he’s promised he is.

If I’m being honest, this is where I’ve spent most of my adult life. Stepping out of my comfort zone again and again, not because I like change, but because I’ve committed myself to Jesus. Because I’ve grown up and ministered in the Churches of Christ and in our best moments we’ve always said those words – “Church of Christ” – ought not be a title so much as a description: a church that belongs to Christ. Because living into that reality requires repentance and digging deeper into the life of the kingdom and into the world around us. You simply can’t stay the same and claim to be a church that belongs to Jesus.

And anyway, I’ve discovered the more I invest in trying to stop change for the sake of preserving my way, the less capable I am of appreciating the thing I’m trying to “save.” I get so busy lamenting the ways the game industry is changing that I forget the things I’ve always loved most about gaming, the things that are still available in this brave new world: playing with my loved ones. I get so busy lamenting the loss of what church was “back in my day,” that I miss out on joining in the countless beautiful ways God is already working in my community to draw my neighbors (and me!) closer to him.

Lord, have mercy.

Change, Anxiety, and What Defines Us