Monday, August 8, 2011

August 8th

So yesterday we went to the new church for the second Sunday.

The worship service is visually stunning. There are colored lights and tall, glinting metal poles and these triangular sail things stretched between them, and the colored lights spin across them.

There's two massive TVs that show scenes of space and stars flying pass, with a black cross in the foreground. The lyrics roll by on these screens.

They have a full band, with a drum set and a bass guitar and five or so people up on stage who know how to harmonize.

It's impressive, but I find myself steeling my backbone against the deluge. I can't yield to it; it's too obviously seductive. It gives me the same feeling that commercials so often do and I end up resenting the manipulation of my emotions.

So I just stood there quietly and tried to let my thoughts flow without self judgement- I keep thinking that I'm a terrible Christian for not closing my eyes and lifting my hands and swaying in the semi dark with the rest. I felt Christ put His hands on my shoulders, as though to steady me amid the bewildering whir of sensations within and without.

Then a song came on with the lyrics, "consume me with with Your fire," or something along those lines and I felt this rush of tender affection for Christ. It was as though we were an old married couple.

"Aw!" I said to Him. "Do you remember when? How cute was I, back then? What a lot we've been through."

Those words brought back the Christianity of my early adulthood- desperate, given over, passionate, full of self abasement and expectations of suffering. I was terrified of the Will of God, expecting it to be contrary to my nature in every way.

It was very interesting to realize that Christ did not lead me into suffering, as I had expected He would, all those times when I gave myself over to Him. He was infinitely more tender, understanding, adept and creative than I had ever guessed.

At that time in my life, I could hardly grasp even the first part of His redemption. I thought I was giving myself over to the fiery furnace, but I was instead falling into the arms of the Good Shepherd, who calls His sheep by name and searches out the lost, no matter how long it takes.

Realizing that, I felt some very old fears fall away. What a marvelous thing it is to look back and see that I had found redeeming grace where I had expected judgement, and purpose where before I had seen only fear and confusion.