So some of my readers (assuming I have a few) may find the video above too “Christiany” and for some Christians it may be too “CCMy;” I know I certainly struggle with it in that way too. Still, this song has been playing on repeat in my head and, when I’m near a device, in my ears basically since I first came across it a few days ago. So press play and read on. I’ll listen to it as I write, and you can listen as you read. Maybe what I say below will make a little more sense to you that way. Circle of Hope taught me years ago that “without worship, we shrink,” and I’m convinced that’s true. It certainly is for me. Worship doesn’t come easy to me, though. My song, my own voice raised in such worship, has been hard to come by now for a long, long time. I think “real” worship, the kind in which your own heart is brave and raw and reaches out in response to the offer of God’s own brave, raw heart is by definition an act of intense vulnerability. It requires being present in your own skin enough to offer your own true self, minus all the pretense and perception managing we’re so busy with all the time. To be vulnerable like this obviously means taking a risk, and risk-taking for we walking wounded requires bravery, indeed. More than that, though, it requires faith, and I don’t mean the kind that answers questions like “Is the Bible true?” or “Do I believe what it says?” I mean more the kind that dares not to answer questions but to ask them, questions like:
- “Are you true, Jesus?”
- “Do you really love me, and if so, why?”
- “Is your love enough, Jesus- is it big enough, bigger than my pain, and will it really win in the end?”
I know my problems are First World/white people’s problems. I am the 1%, after all, among the richest people to ever walk the face of the earth, regardless of how low my credit score is and how much debt I carry. Still, they’re my problems, and my pain is real pain, inflicted by an inadvertently cruel mother and a sometimes all too cruel (First) world. As well documented on this blog, I had been through so much before Kirsten and I ever met, and together we’ve been through so much more still. Sadly, some of my pain is self-inflicted as I struggle to escape the sins of my parents and my own anxious, depressed, and aspie (-like?) nature. All that said, though, for me to truly worship not just with my life but specifically in song requires me to acknowledge that I am not the center of my own universe, that God is God and I am not, that love and hope and joy and justice and peace and indeed all things are truly possible. It requires me to not just hope for those things but to live into them, even if just for a moment. So if you hear my voice raised in worship, you should know that it’s no joke- a curtain is being pulled back; God’s kingdom is upon us; I’m entering the future.
That’s so very hard to do, though- to live as a person from the future, for whom God’s kingdom of peace, justice, and love has come. It requires “eyes to see” healing in the midst of pain, justice and peace in the middle of conflict and strife, and love in the midst of hate- or worse- indifference. Harder still, it requires eyes to see myself as I can only trust that God does- as a broken but healed and beloved child of God. I want to be beloved; don’t we all? But I rarely know myself in this way, and I think I know why. You see, Circle of Hope also taught me that the Church exists for those yet to become a part of it, or as God told Abraham, to whatever extent we are blessed, we are blessed to be a blessing. God’s love is so great that even a trinity couldn’t contain it, and it spilled over into God’s good earth and all of us. So surely it’s so great that I couldn’t contain it; which means that if I want to keep experiencing it, deep in my gut, I have to be a conduit of it. The more I give, the more I get. “Break my heart for what breaks yours” from the song above, indeed.
All of this brings me to tonight. Tonight, the Resistance gathered for worship, and Ben started a sermon series on Revelation. As I hoped, he reminded us that prophecy was less about telling the future than it is about telling the truth. He said that it rarely prescribes a fixed outcome that cannot be changed, but rather like Scrooge’s entreaty to the ghost of Christmas future, it describes only what may be (to the extent that it describes the future at all). It offers a choice. It pulls back the veil on the false empires of this world and reminds that we’re called to be citizens of God’s kingdom instead. It reminds us that God’s kingdom will come, in the end, but we’re offered a chance to experience that coming kingdom right here and now. “We all gotta serve somebody,” Dylan sang. Why not serve the One who served and loved us first, and is doing so even now? Why not serve each other? Why not break the cycle of violence and pain in the world with unexpected and undeserved grace? Why not forgive our worst enemy and destroy him by making him our friend? That’s the story we’re invited to be a part of. It’s the only one I want told about me, and it’s one I may yet be able to sing about.