Speaking of Boxes. . .

I'm sitting in my apartment surrounded by piles of boxes and wow. It makes me happy to be moving! We're finally doing it. Nothing major, of course, just to a new apartment, but it's completely worth it. Yesterday a friend got really excited for me and told me how much he loves moving. He went on and on about the joys of re-arranging furniture and his smile got bigger and bigger--well, I did get a little concerned about him but then I laughed. I agree with him. The actual task of packing and taping boxes and moving heavy objects (like our piano, which will be moved from the second floor down precarious cement steps. . .) is somewhat daunting, but the after effect will be lovely. It's necessary to get a new start with new walls and new organization. It's also extremely cleansing.

Speaking of moving, here's a question: how often does the organization of church need to be re-evaluated? I've been struggling with the design of church services for awhile now. When Scripture doesn't explicitly lay out commands about something or other, like what a worship gathering should look like, I think it's natural to question our methods. I think it's necessary to get in Scripture and re-evaluate. So, how often do we need to "move" our churches, so to speak, and start over with a fresh beginning?

For example, I know many church-goers who enter church doors and never speak a word to anyone. I also know many church-goers who have left because of it. We acknowlege in our doctrine that community is important, but do our services, programs, and overall Christian love and friendliness convey our beliefs? In my devotional this morning I read "Forgive all my sins and graciously receive me, so that I may offer you the sacrifice of praise" (Hosea 14:1-2). I thought and prayed very seriously about that verse, and Romans 12:12-2 came to mind about offering our bodies as living sacrifices. Our bodies praise God. Our lives praise God. But when we come together on a Sunday morning, that should be a culmination of our sacrificing. And a sacrifice should be painful in a good way. We're giving something up for God to honor him. What do we give up on Sunday but an hour of our time? Is the worship gathering organized in such a way that we are required to give our all? And there's then the ever pressing belief about Christ living in all of us Christians, not just the Pastor or leaders. Do we enable ourselves to believe in the authority Christ promises us, or do we leave all the "good works" up the our ordained professionals?

Honestly, I don't have answers, just questions. But I read a book awhile ago I'll recommend for your reading list: The Millenium Matrix by M. Rex Miller. It's a good one.


Dusty Boxes

It's day two of my return to Reno. After a three week vacation in which I camped at Lake Tahoe with my parents and brothers, housboated on Lake Shasta with our youth group, and then camped again at Tahoe for a church retreat, I'm finally able to swing back into regular life--as regular as life can be, that is. Vacation reminds me that life should never fall into a predictable routine--we should have a party all the time! Still, I should never take a vacation from writing and I did these last few weeks. The last post I wrote was quite awhile ago and I never finished the thought process. I left you hanging with a question: what does creative nonfiction have to do with worship? I believe the answer is found in the formation of creative nonfiction and worship, and from creative nonfiction, I believe worship could learn a thing or two.

Creative nonfiction has existed since the origin of time, whether it was in family storytelling or oral history preservation. Worship of God also began at the beginning when Adam and Eve walked with God in the garden. But as history proceeded to stomp through the earth, human systems and agenda began to take priority. Soon we had a name for everything, a system for routine, formulas for our problems, and practical goals to attain. As a result, storytelling is now labeled and put away in the proper box: screenwriting, novels, poetry, non-fiction, etc. Worship is also labeled. Traditional, contemporary, spontaneous, spirit-led, liturgical, etc.

Labeling and boxing is one thing, but putting those boxes away into the attic and doing everything by memory is tragic. I say we take down the boxes, brush off the dust, and ask some important questions, just like some of the new literary thinkers have done. They weren't happy with the genres as they were. The labels were too limiting and left necessary art forms homeless on the street. For example, what about the memoir? Where is the art of factual human experiences? Where's the story we're forgetting in people's lives? And TA-DA!! a mix of many of the genres was named creative nonfiction, and it is now appreciated and a part of our life. So when it comes to worship, I say we do the same thing. We take down the boxes, brush off the pages, and ask important questions. Why do we do what we do? Why is worship structured the way it is? Why is it worth the effort? To what extent do our real beliefs govern the way we worship God?

I'm going to take a coffee break now.