Sunday Ramble

The power cord was at the bottom of the laptop case… I spent a good twenty minutes this evening searching my house for a power cord that was already in my backpack. I headed out to work on blogging with the hope of accomplishing something before the minimal battery power on the Chromebook came crashing down to 0%.

The batteries had been full once. Oh, I want to be clear on this point. Before my wife had an ordination paper to work upon and before my kids needed a distraction during an afternoon meeting during a snowstorm the battery had been full. 100% full–that is what the battery used to be before life struck. I never meant the batteries to get so low without a charge. It just sort of happened when I wasn’t paying attention.

I sometimes wonder if people are like this laptop’s battery. When everything is running perfectly it is like running a laptop at 100%. When we are fully rested there are no hikes too long, no meetings too onerous, and no conversation too heavy. When things are charged at full, we can do almost anything. We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14). All that being said, things happen:

  • A friend gets sick and we watch them struggle while being unable to help.
  • A problem happens at work and suddenly everything goes to DEFCON 2.
  • A global event occurs that makes us nervous for loved ones, neighbors, or even strangers.

We can quickly go from 100% to 80% and suddenly to 20%. If we were all smart phones, we might all find ourselves hanging out in “Low Power Mode” more often than we would enjoy or prefer. Life can be draining.

For me the battery-drain of life is the very reason why I need to be plugged into the Source of life. For me, that Source of life is the Christian Triune God. Connecting with God gives me strength for life. Finding that connection is important to me if I want to keep going instead of constantly dragging my heels at the bottom of the barrel.

This may sound crazy to some, but the place that I find my connection nurtured most is in the church. Yes, church. The community filled with strange people that is more of a hospital for sinners than a country club of saints. The church!

I do not necessarily mean Sunday morning church, although I do love the opportunities I have to simply worship. I am talking about being in a community with a group of believers. To be honest, as someone who leads worship on a regular basis, I get nearly as much out of checking in with people before church as I do out of the liturgy. Speaking with people about life, praying with them about their challenges, or even just extending hospitality gives me a connection to church that is as deep as some of the songs we sing. One of the reasons I do not like being ambushed with “business” on Sunday morning is that the conversations that business interrupts often are the meat and potatoes that recharge me.

Let me try to explain what I mean with a concrete example without violating privacy or confidences. After church today I went visiting with folks who are recovering from various health conditions. We sat for a bit talking and then I prayed. These weren’t the longest visits in the world. My entire purpose in visiting on Sunday is not to provide the deepest levels of pastoral care, but to extend the fellowship of the church service and fellowship hour to folks who are isolated away from the community.

As we prayed during one visit, we found ourselves praying for each other. I was praying for both the person who I had been talking with as well as for myself. She was praying for her needs and praying for mine. We were both in a place of waiting, so when we prayed we both acknowledged our feeling of being out of control, both asked for God’s help, and both prayed for each other.

It was a holy moment being in connection with God and with another person. My battery went up a few percentage points during that prayer. My battery was filled because we shared a connection to God, had a place of mutual concern, and lifted up our need together. Those sacred moments of prayer this afternoon where we lifted each other ended up being poignant, deep, and meaningful. For me, those moments were where I connected to God most deeply this Sunday.

Some people believe church is a place where needs are met. Maybe you need rest, maybe you need inspiration, or maybe you just need company. In truth, these are needs that are sometimes met in the church community, but I want to suggest that church is not just about taking things away. Church is about worship, about community, and about the idea that being in/on the journey together is a natural part of our connection with God.

We need each other. Perhaps the need for mutual connection is one of the very reasons why St. Paul kept mentioning sins that affect living in a loving community in his letter to 1 Corinthians. Okay, that is exactly why I believe Paul keeps coming back to issues of sin and division. We all have our theological axes to grind…

What do you think? Where are your batteries recharged? Do you find community helpful? If so, how? If not, why not?

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