Reflections to start the week
Monday, June 23, 2014
“You can do better than fine. You can do great.”
Last week, I met a friend over a glass of wine (okay, it was two) and we got talking about the church, about challenges and opportunities, about discouragement and hope, about what we find engaging and what is not engaging. We are part of different congregations, but there was plenty of common ground in our discussion, which didn’t go on long enough for my taste, since we each had dinner plans that night. My friend went home for dinner with his family, where apparently the conversation about church and worship continued. Since school is out, that family has assigned their children a weekly essay during the summer months. My friend’s 11 year old daughter left the dinner table and wrote her weekly essay, continuing the discussion about church. The essay is entitled: How should we worship? I thought you might like to see what this young person (11 years old!) wrote:
I think churches are getting a little too old fashioned, even churches that are supposed to be “more in generation.” For example, in our church we read the Gospel, sing, say prayers, talk about the church schedule, and we listen to a sermon, etc. Do you think that is focusing on worshiping god and praying to him? I don’t. That’s probably why lots of people are not going to church as much. I know people who just go for holidays. Have you ever been in a church service and wondered about something the priest said? I have. Do you look it up when you get home, forget the question, or just not have time to wonder about it? Don’t you wonder why you can’t ask the question to the priest right after he/she is done? I think that you should be able to ask them during the sermon or text it to them so you will not be embarrassed. I think that the church service should be more interactive, more questioning, and more communicative. That will bring the church community closer. There are a lot more ways to correct the church but the problem is that they don’t want to be corrected. They think their way is fine. They’re right that it is fine, but you can do better than fine. You can do great. You’re never done. You can always correct and change the way you think. You can change the world!! Worship God the way you want to.
Do you wonder what Jesus had in mind when he said that the kingdom of God belongs to children, that we need to receive the kingdom of God as a little child? I’m not sure what he meant, but I bet he would have liked this essay. I’ve been in the rooted and restless (but mostly rooted) Episcopal Church long enough to know that change comes slowly, that some of my young wise friend’s suggestions won’t immediately or readily or maybe ever be embraced. But I loved reading this essay, a window into a wonderful mind, fresh with ideas I might do well to take to General Convention, fresh with challenge to my own experience of worship. This Monday morning, this young lady challenges us to think about the possibility that wherever we are in the spiritual journey, there is more. I thank God for her and her family, for many reasons. Today, I give thanks for her challenge, which I take personally. She becomes my teacher as she says to me: “Jay, you can do better than fine. You can do great. You’re never done.”
One more thing. Know that I would be honored if you would tweet me a question during one of my sermons, or any other time. @sidebotham.
– Jay Sidebotham
People were bringing little children to Jesus in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them.
But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.
Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’
And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.
Rev. Jay Sidebotham
RenewalWorks is a ministry of Forward Movement.