Monday, July 19, 2010

Apples to Oranges

"This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24

Comparisons can be fun. As a sports fan, I love comparing the statistics of different players in their respective sports. However, comparisons can be misleading. Afterall, there is no such thing as comparing apples to apples. There are too many variables involved in any situation- in baseball, a batting average can be afftected by the skill of a pitcher as well as the fatigue of that pitcher at the time of the at bat...

These may seem like trivial differences but they exist just the same. But I still love statistics and comparisons.
Comparing things in life seems to almost come as second nature to me (and I'm guessing I'm not alone in this). I compare this week's experiences with last week's and I compare this year's big events with last year's. It's difficult not to- our prior experiences help us to know what to expect...or so we think.

Expectations can often get in the way of enjoying the present. If we are constantly comparing this time to the last time, we miss so much of what this time has in store. It's too tempting to look at the past with either rose-colored glasses, or simply dread te coming of next time. Although comparisons can be fun and help us to know what to expect, we must not allow our expectations to get in the way of having a new experience. There is something new in store this time. Expect it to be different.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The other part

I remember one of the first lessons I heard about music- "rests are just as important as the notes. "

A few weeks ago I took part in leading a Taize worship time. I've participated in Taize services before but never had the opportunity to lead one. For those who haven't experienced Taize, it makes use of scripture, repetitive songs, and silence for a worship time that is intended to be reflective.

During the service, we read scriptures, prayers, and sang songs that repeated the same verse numerous times. However, taking the time to be silent proved to be very difficult for the leaders. When you're leading worship, a few seconds of silence can seem like an hour... and silence can be even more uncomfortable for those not in leadership as they anticipate the next thing to happen. Taize's tradition confronts this constant need for occupying participants through activity. The times of "dead air" are intentionally put into the service to allow time for communion with God through prayer.

Silence is worth seeking and not as scary as you might think. Silence allows things to resonate. Silence allows that which is unscripted and unplanned to become our focus.

"One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was. Then the LORD called Samuel." 1Samuel 3:2-4a

Friday, July 2, 2010

Staying true

Well the World Cup has wrapped up. I don't think I watched any of the games. Not that I'm anti-soccer, I just don't have easy access to TV this summer. So I get my sports fix through sports talk radio. The buzz has died down a little since USA's early exit, but for a while it seemed that there were endless sketchy calls made by referees and FIFA seemed completely uninterested in addressing these errors. After a few controversial calls, some of the sports world was calling for the implementation of instant replay. However, FIFA responded that they did not want to change the game that had remained the same for such a long time.

Having instant replay involved in sports is a relatively new debate. The NFL has perhaps the most open use of the new technology in popular American sports- allowing coaches to "challenge" plays that they think were called incorrectly. The NHL and NBA use instant replay to double-check only in the case that points are involved (goal/no goal in hockey, and 3/2pt shots & buzzer beaters in basketball). But sports purists still insist that the integrity of the game is being compromised, and FIFA echoed the sentiments of these purists by stating that officiating mistakes are a part of the game.

Well, without giving my opinion on this issue (and believe me, I have one), I wonder what we can learn from sports about being the church. Are we allowing ourselves to progress or are we endangering the purity of the church and its traditions? As the information age progresses and creates a newer, more techno-savvy culture, what must the church do to remain in touch with the world? I see both sides of the argument: traditions keep us grounded and rooted, but they can also keep us from progressing and cause stagnation. We must continue to evaluate and hold both tradition and innovation in a balance.