Monthly Archives: September 2013

Devil in the Details

I’m sometimes known for my attention to details (Just ask my husband about doing dishes!)  

So of course I like the idea that God notices and cares about the details.. the small things that aren’t noticeable at first glance.  The way one family I know composts, because they think that detail of caring for the environment matters.  The way another friend gets crazy deals with coupons, because those details add up to more money they get to keep (which they often choose to give away.)  

Our church services are full of details.  

Making the coffee.  Setting the sound system.  Setting out the treats.  Making sure people know where to park, how to get inside the church.  Someone thought through the details of the building long before sunday ever happened.  How would someone in a wheelchair get in the building or go to the restroom?  Can the sound system help someone with hearing aids?  What kind of coffee is the church going to purchase, and how does that affect the people who grow the coffee?  

All these choices (and so many more in our personal lives) involve more details if we keep breaking them down than we can ever handle understanding or wrapping our minds around.  They all affect people in ways we can’t even imagine.  

As a musician, I focus in on a lot of details other people would never notice.  How is that chord voiced?  What harmony should I sing to work with the melody and the chords?  I spend time practicing and working out details that ‘other people wouldn’t notice’.  

Except, when a professional takes the stage, it seems like people notice.  Often not the details themselves, but… something.  They notice something is different, more details are thought through, even though the average listener can’t articulate what additional details are added to the music.  

In my job at the library, sometimes the staff will spend time straightening the books on the shelf so the spines are even and flush with the edge of the shelf.  Someone commented that walking into an area that had just been straightened that it ‘felt’ professional.  Taking care of that detail was small and subtle, and arguably not important, but it still made an underlying difference.  

I say all that perhaps to reassure myself that the work I put into the details of the music I bring to church means something, matters in some way more than the sum of the details themselves.  I say that also to point out the opposite: in the details of my life I let slip, when my tongue is out of control, and the details are chaotic or cutting – it’s the little details where the devil likes to meet me.  One out-of place book in a library is often VERY difficult to find.  One letter spelled wrong in someone’s name in a database can cause expensive errors.  One word I say can hurt my closest relationships.  The small things, the details, matter.  (Sorry guy who wrote the book about not sweating the small stuff!) 

Perhaps it is not the nature of details, but the far more powerful effect of grace in our lives that really allows us NOT to ‘sweat the small stuff’.  The small stuff all matters; Grace is the force that sets it right, that takes the best of our details and makes up for the details we miss, the small ways we go around sinning that we don’t even know about.  

 

 

God, help us honor and worship you in the details of our lives and our work, that all of what we do would be to your glory to the last syllable, bolt, sixteenth note, or coupon..  Help us see the way the details of our choices affect those we are close to (and those who might live on the other side of the world.)  Fill us with your grace to learn and forgive ourselves and others for the details we miss.  Thank you for making up for all the details we miss and gently teaching us as a father teaches his children.  

Worship Elements: Communion

I married an incredible man this summer.  I had three requirements on my list for a guy: must love Jesus, must be musical, and must eat onions.  (Not necessarily LIKE onions, just has to be willing to eat them.)   After several meals prepared with onion by my friends who knew my requirements, Jeff passed the bill with more than flying colors (and likes onions, to boot.)

While we were dating/engaged we prayed that our relationship would be a light for Christ to our friends, family and all we interacted with.  When we got engaged and started planning our wedding, we wanted to celebrate communion – and per our pastor’s suggestion, decided that we should be the ones to serve our gathered friends and family the bread and juice (in our case), the elements of communion.

The more I thought about this the more excited I got about it.  We were going to get to act out our prayers of being a light to our friends and relations.  As the highlight of our wedding, we got to hold out the symbols of Christ’s death, to be human hands holding Jesus out to those we love and care about most.  We as broken people were given the privilege of holding out Christ’s broken body, holding out the source of hope and healing Jeff and I have founded our relationship on.

2634105_1378835840Communion tends to be a rather somber practice.  We are sometimes directed to reflect on our sins, shortcomings and attempt to be ‘right’ before God in receiving Him in communion.  This is turned upside-down if you participate in communion at a wedding!  I have never experienced such a JOYFUL time of communion.  It reminded me of the promise we as Christians have ahead of us – the glorious reuniting of Christ with the Church, his bride.  Instead of being about Jesus’ death, this communion experience reminded me of our reuniting with Christ as we will be in heaven, a glorious feast we will share with all those who belong in Christ.

And there were some of our friends and family who did not participate in communion with us.

Some, like my Catholic family, did not participate because their commitment to Christ involves commitment to the doctrines of participating in communion only with the Catholic church.  They responded with joy that we chose to celebrate communion.  I find sadness that now, the Church is broken enough that we cannot all yet participate in an event that reminds us of the reuniting to come, but Joy that one day, even the brokenness of the Church will be healed, and Catholics and Protestants will be no more, and we will all celebrate as united with Christ.

And some simply do not believe.  We aim to continue to find ways to hold out the elements of Christ to them, that they might taste and see how good God is.

God, help us hold you before us in all our relationships: teach us by your radical sacrifice how much we are loved, and to love others the way we are loved.  Thank you for the promise of what’s to come, the great wedding feast when the Church is reunited with Christ.  Thank you for the reflections and images of that hope here on earth now: Your Kingdom Come.

Starting in the Middle

I feel like I’ve been blogging for a long time, only my thoughts have never quite made it out from my head to a keyboard to the internets.  So this really doesn’t feel like much of a beginning, other than taking a step to actually start communicating in writing what’s been building in my mind all along.  Welcome.  

 
Some of the things I’ll write about (because they are things I think about): worship, the church, the Church, yoga, other spiritual disciplines, books I’m reading, differences between the north and the south (all thanks to my wonderful Texan husband) and whatever else comes to mind, like it has over the past several years when I think “Oh, I should blog about that”.  
 
Thanks for reading.  Really.