Today is Monday, June 26, 2017. Day 21,655. Seven days until our July 4 holiday.
“Many people lose the small joys in the hope for the big happiness.” ― Pearl S. Buck
The word of the day is beatinest, an adjective meaning, “most remarkable or unusual.”
Today is Please Take My Children to Work Day. I just like that because it’s funny. And certainly makes sense!
For what it was, it was an okay weekend. After church, yesterday, we stopped by Los Molcajetes for lunch, then Sonic for drinks. After we got home, we put together a grocery list, then I went to the store. I spent most of the rest of the afternoon playing Fallout: New Vegas, which helped me to relax, both physically and mentally. Playing a video game, for me, is a lot like watching a good movie. I am able to totally lose myself in the world of the game, and pretty much forget about anything else.
Back to work today, and band practice tonight, so it’s a long day. It’s our last practice until August, though, as our Independence Day shindig is next Monday night, and we have the rest of July off.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted
(From The Divine Hours)
My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day.
Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent.
O LORD, God of my salvation; I cry out day and night before you.
Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry!
Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.
Salvation belongs to the LORD; your blessing be on your people! Selah.
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
“A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.”
The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!
Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around.
His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory.
(From Practice Resurrection)
As Eugene Peterson was growing up, his understanding of church was that of “a badly constructed house that had been lived in by renters who didn’t keep up with repairs.” When he became a pastor, he assumed that his job “was to do major repair work, renovating it from top to bottom.” This understanding was acquired from years of listening to pastors that served at his childhood church. Unfortunately, they never lasted very long.
One of his favorite texts, that was preached by virtually every pastor he can remember, was from the Song of Solomon, chapter 6, verse 4. You are beautiful as Tirzah, my love, lovely as Jerusalem, awesome as an army with banners. “This was a favorite text in that long-ago Montana culture to refer to church.” The image of the church was that she was this “beautiful Tirzah,” and that she was an awesome army with banners. His pastors filled this metaphor out with “glorious imagery.” Says Peterson, “For at least thirty or forty minutes our shabby fixer-upper church with its rotting front porch was tansformed into something almost as good as the Second Coming.”
He compares those sermons with the picture on the front of a jigsaw puzzle box. You see the pictures, you have a thousand pieces spread out before you, and know that, if you keep at it long enough, those pieces will finally fit together to make that beautiful picture. Turns out his pastors weren’t that patient. Perhaps they decided that some of the pieces were missing. Maybe they finally decided that this particular church was “too far gone in disrepair to spend any more time on it.” But it seemed like they bounced from church to church, never spending much time at any single one.
Peterson never forgot that metaphor though, and when he became a pastor, at first, he was unable to abandon this romantic vision of church. Eventually, the illusion became delusion, but it didn’t last long. He soon found out that the popular imagery had changed into a “new and fresh imagery . . . provided by American business.” There was a new generation of pastors that were reimagining the church. Tirzah had been scrapped. The replacement was an “imagery of an ecclesiastical business with a mission to market spirituality to consumers to make them happy. Simultaneously, campaigns targeted outsiders to get them to buy whatever it was that was making us happy.”
The church was no longer considered to be something that needed repair, but, rather, “a business opportunity that would cater to the consumer tastes of spiritually minded sinners both within and without the congregation.” There was no longer a need for “fantasy sermons,” based on what the church should look like. “Media manipulation” became the tool to get people “to do something they were already pretty good at doing: being consumers.” The pictures of Sodom and Gomorrah and Golgotha were removed from the walls. God was depersonalized and “repackaged as a principle or formula,” and “people could shop at their convenience for whatever sounded or looked as if it would make their lives more interesting and satisfying on their own terms.”
Yes, this all sounds kind of harsh. But there is truth to it, and I have observed the same truth over the decades that I have been in church, and I have been in church since I was an infant. I don’t remember much about those days. But I have to confess that I fell into the consumerism trap, right along with many others. But I embrace Eugene Peterson’s vision at this point, which is why I’m re-reading this book. And it’s not all so harsh, because he soon gets into the teaching of Paul on what we should see, and how God works in and through the Church.
Father, teach us to step away from the consumerism mentality in your Church. There should never have been any place for this, and I pray for forgiveness for all who drove her into that mentality. Show us what the true Church should look like, as we interact with one another in Trinitarian community. Teach us your was, that we may walk in your truth and in your kingdom.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
Grace and peace, friends.