Friday, January 12, 2007

"Foose-ball" and revelation

Ok, so I just watched a promo for a movie called We Are Marshall. I guess it came out in 2006. It's a movie about a college football team in a small town called Marshall. It's based on a true story about how there was a terrible plane crash; most of the players for the team were on board that plane and lost their lives that night. During the interviews of the actors in the movie they all kept saying that the football was just a backdrop for the human drama of the story. The football is really just a backdrop to everything that the people in that town were going through... Then it hit me - it was one of those moments of personal revelation - that is precisely what all of this "church stuff" is. All of the get-togethers, all of the events, all of the programs, camps, retreats, etc. - all those things are just backdrops for the human drama that continually takes place. I think that sometimes we refer to the inner workings of our lives as the "real world" because we instinctively know that the events aren't where it's at. Ultimately, the events can save no one, but the inner landscape... well, that can change the world. If we can connect with people on a deeper level while we are attending these events that is what will count. Sean told us the other night that the broad brushstrokes at the base layer are what matter - the love, friendship, and connections with others. Even if the event itself fails, when we have loved and connected to others that is what matters in the long run.

I have heard some of these ideas over and over but never quite grasped the concept of the backdrop. Sean has understood this concept for a long time and those who know him can attest to his ability to connect on deeper levels and to encourage, to teach and to be a genuinely caring friend. He is not hung up, like so many of us are, on feverishly continuing to paint the set even though the play has already begun. We should put down our brushes and be part of what is going on, either on the stage or in the audience, so to speak.

Many of us have complained about the [institution of] church and how we dislike the highly programmatic nature of so many churches today and how it just begins to feel like there’s always yet another event to attend or to volunteer for. After awhile it seems like all we are there for is to serve the event. Worse yet is when leadership begins to value the success of the event instead of how well people connected with one another, with God, and whether or not unconditional love was being demonstrated. It is truly frustrating if a group of volunteers receives a tongue-lashing because they didn’t get enough of the set painted even though they know that people came away feeling loved and valued despite how the backdrop turned out. It seems to me that we come away from the church feeling dissatisfied because we know that it is not the set that matters at all. We are struggling, we are hurting, we are seeking some answers, and we are longing for acceptance that goes way beyond a smile and a pat on the back and some trite conversation. We could care less about the backdrop.

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