This is the picture that was printed in the bulletin at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church last Sunday (Sept 23, 12). There is always a picture printed longside a quotation of some sort. This Sunday I didn’t see any connection between the picture and the quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It’s funny, but sometimes I think they connect to the sermon and other times I do not. It’s okay though because worship is more than simply the sermon. I sing in the choir now and the anthems are the same way.
The thing is, it doesn’t really matter for worship should touch all the senses. Even if the sermon doesn’t connect with me, something in the service always does.
I could relate to this picture because I often feel as if I’m in a maze filled with mirrors along with this boy. I try to do something and I come up against my brain injury challenges which makes me want to just close my eyes and block out all the commotion. Dealing with all these challenges can really drain me. Occasionally, I do block them all. I stay home, don’t answer the phone or read my emails. But I always come back.
I also could relate to parts of the sermon by Mark Ramsey. If you’d like to read it, here is the link: http://storage.cloversites.com/gracecovenantpresbyterianchurch1/documents/sr-23Sept12-alt.pdf Mark points out that we often “have a propensity to always chase the ‘shiny object,’ thinking it will solve everything.” He expands on this idea with a few examples. “The blueprints to personal riches. The plan that will make us thin. The coaching that will make us popular The drug that will take away our anxiety.” He says that we cannot borrow our life from someone else.
I know there’s been times when I’ve wanted to borrow someone else’s life. Perhaps I could borrow some one’s eyes since mine have double vision and I dislike having to wear my eye patch. Perhaps I could borrow some one’s church where I would preach every week giving nuggets of divine wisdom. Perhaps I could borrow the professional orchestra that so and so plays with and make music that brings people (and myself) to heavenly places.
I appreciate Mark’s comments about temptation. “Temptation is the lure to chase the tiny object and so tire ourselves out chasing the shallow thing that we don’t know who we are – and doubt descends on us: will we ever be able to hear God’s true voice? (bold added)
How many times have I asked myself this question? Where are you, God? Are you speaking to me or only to those around me? That brain injury survivor over there is able to do so much more than me! That minister can serve out her ordination vows. What about me? Don’t you care what I’m feeling? Doubt descends.
In his sermon, Mark shared a thought by Anne Lamott. “Faith is about the willingness or necessity of being wiped out of what you think holds you together, to face a benevolent annihilation without all the stuff that you think defines you…. Because you have to give up some false stuff to get to the true.“
My brain injury has forced me to give up some false stuff. The idea that since I wear a robe and stole on Sunday, I am closer to God than others. The idea that since I have a seminary degree, I can study scripture and theology better than someone who doesn’t. The idea that my call to be a minister is “better” than others.
On that last idea, I think the Presbyterian Church (USA) unknowingly leads one to believe this. When I went from being a member of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta to a member of the Presbytery of Western North Carolina, I had to write a statement of faith and say a few words about my call in front of the Presbytery. I believe this fosters the idea that the ordained call is “better” or at least a more important call than what other people receive.
I don’t want to be who I’m not anymore. I write this but I know this isn’t easy at all. To be oneself is a journey like no other.