I have such a love/hate relationship with the moments God flicks me on the ear to refocus my attention on what’s vital instead of only zeroing in on what’s important.
Do you get the difference, Reader?
I hate it when people say that God gets you to see what’s important, or what matters, because a lot of what we do is important. If you don’t do the dishes for a few weeks, it becomes a big deal. If you miss a meeting, the lost information and disregard for the other person’s time are important. And it definitely matters if you don’t file big projects on time—something to keep in mind, since it’s tax season here in the U.S. The difference isn’t in importance but vitality, connected to vita, life. The vital things are what bring you life, given abundantly by the Source.
So this past Sunday, the sermon was on the wedding at Cana and the idea of a party, of joy, of embracing the Kingdom as something wonderfully fun to which we all bring something worthwhile—namely, ourselves. After the sermon, we had folks come up while music played and write on the inside of blowouts how they envisioned themselves being part of God’s party—and it was so great.
It had to be great, I knew, because while the pastors were explaining how this whole thing was going to work, the trio of teenagers right behind me gasped as they realized what they were going to be able to play with, and in the middle of church no less. It was a party! People were wandering all over the sanctuary blowing these obnoxiously weird toys at each other, sneaking up behind friends to scare them, laughing at the silliness. People were talking to each other, playing because people love the excuse to play. We don’t get it that often, and we most certainly don’t give it to ourselves. I’ll be the first one to admit that I’m a pretty stuffed shirt sometimes—true, I’m eccentric as all get-out and I have a laugh that can be heard for miles, but if I think I’m in a Serious Moment, it’s hard for me to be loose about it. It’s something I’ve consciously been working on the last few years, because I’ve begun to realize that Having Fun does not have to equal Being Less Responsible.
So we had this party in the middle of the service, and it was fantastic, and we were commissioned to go remember the party, to bring it to others, to get excited because Christians, the Kingdom is a party!
Gear shift into Monday–The Inauguration of the President of the United States.
Or was it?
As even more snowed whirled into the Land of Pilgrims and I snuggled into my couch in *gasp* my pajamas, watching the festivities (it is HIGHLY unusual for me to remain in pajamas after I’ve gotten out of bed. This confused my college friends no end), I listened to all the pundits talking about the majesty, the tradition, the gravitas of the Inauguration ceremonies—because they’re right, all of these things were there. This 57th presidential hullabaloo showcased the fact that this Great Experiment of these United States has not failed. We are foolish, selfish, partisan, haughty, and short-sighted, but we are still here, shouldering the shadow of our much older brothers on the global stage, holding the place for our turbulent younger sisters. The world looks to us—in derision, in anger, in judgment, but also in hope. At its core, this constant attempt for a more perfect union presents the possibility that others can aspire for the same—can one day, perhaps, surpass us to direct a new configuration of leaders.
Is that not reason to party? Heck yeah it is! The promise of something like that, even when we know we’re going to get mad at the whole process the very next day, sparks this awareness that humankind can do incredible things. So yeah, we roll out the eight million flags, we sing all the songs with intense lyrics most people don’t actually listen to, we quote our favorite speech passages on Facebook. Because the world is part of this promise, from the 8th-generation American freezing on the Mall to the dreaming Syrian watching the live stream on a beat-up laptop.
And they didn’t even have blowouts. How much cooler is the idea that the Guy who made water wine has invited us to party at His house? As we are? He wants our bad karaoke, He wants our four perfected dance moves, He wants our well-worn jokes and finicky attitudes about appetizers and hesitations about sitting next to the groom’s brother because he caught the garter and That Means Things. God wants all of that stuff because it’s a party, and we are part of it by virtue of who we are—God’s.
Would that we focused on that with the intensity of an excited gasp as we realize how immeasurably cool it is to be given an excuse to rejoice.
The wolf will live with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat; the calf and the young lion will feed together, and a little child will lead them. (Isaiah 11:6, CEB)