Church yesterday was awesome. I have just given up on trying not to cry during worship. I don't always understand the tears. There are the songs that are deeply connected to Connie, but there are some that just make me weep and I don't know why.
My church loves the arts. Art is frequently incorporated into the service. Dance, theater, and my favorite, painting. How is painting incorporated into the service? Well, the artist or artists paint while the worship team leads the congregation in song.
Today, two men and a woman stood at a large black canvas. They were dressed in black. It was dark in the sanctuary, and all you could really see was the paint being brushed on to the canvas. The three of them painted in unison, painted as one. It was one of the most visceral experiences I have had in church. The music was resurrection music, and at the end of the song, I don't think there was a dry eye in the place. And this is what the painters left…
Then Matt spoke to us about being amazed in the context of our knowing Jesus. I will never be able to adequately convey what he spoke about but he did write a beautiful synopsis of sorts in the bulletin. This is what it said:
Amazed. It's a word we use often…in entertainment and media…regarding technology or relationships…at sporting events…even in the marketplace. But how often do we go beyond superficial uses of the word and apply its full, descriptive impact to Jesus Christ?
If you've ever read through the gospel accounts of Christ's life (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), it's not hard to notice how many references there are to people being amazed by Him. Here are a few excerpts:
When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching … The men were amazed and asked, "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!" … The crowd was amazed and said, "Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel." … They were amazed. "Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?" they asked … The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing … When the disciples saw this, they were amazed … This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this!" … People were overwhelmed with amazement . "He has done everything well," they said. … All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips … Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, "We have seen remarkable things today."
Wow. Those descriptive statements are a far cry from the experience of most people today who are tipping their hat to some religious ritual. We might go through a religious routine but there's no amazement involved. So it's no surprise that many of us feel God is irrelevant to our lives – (now this is Linda here…it's also no surprise that many feel that THEY are irrelevant to God) the reason is we've missed the amazing beauty of the person and work of Jesus Christ and His willingness to intervene in our lives.
Here at Woodmen Valley Chapel, we talk a lot about being amazed – not over religion, but over the way God treats us. Through Jesus Christ, He gives us not what we deserve, but what we need! The Bible calls that grace. And His grace really is amazing!
So how does amazement begin to bubble to the surface in the midst of our "Monday morning" realities? Amazement comes from a combination of two ingredients: our desperation and God's intervention.
Being amazed comes from an authentic engagement with the desperation in our lives – on the surface of those "waters of desperation" are the obvious stresses of living in a broken world, from financial fears to emotional aches. Under the surface is the undertow of the real causes of the turbulence: isolation, self-absorption, confusion, dullness…all birthed and fueled by our hearts which, by nature, have a natural inclinationn toward rebellion against God's rule in our lives. But if we only engage with our desperation, it's not a pretty picture! Therefore, it's equally vital to engage with the ways God intervenes in our lives.
What's the result of:
Focusing on my desperation without acknowledging God's intervention? — Spiraling despair.
Talking about God's intervention without acknowledging my own desperation? — Barren religiosity.
My desperation combined with God's intervention??? — AMAZEMENT.
(Want to hear the whole sermon? Click WV Chapel "Listen Online" under my blogroll)