Sunday, April 24, 2011

Morning Has Broken

Most likely you're thinking of the song Cat Stevens recorded about now. It wasn't until I had children that I learned the song was originally a poem written by Eleanor Fargeon. She was a prolific writer of verse, and I remember reading in one of her compilations her lighthearted lament at not being a true poet, but simply a writer of children's verse. She viewed herself as not quite having the talent for which she yearned.

It is a common lament, to regret not reaching one's potential or experiencing one's dreams.  It is the way of the world. We go about life knowing we will not do or be all that we wanted or hoped.  In the middle of such ordinariness, Easter comes upon us, and I'm so appreciative of Jesus and how he revealed himself after the resurrection amidst the ordinariness of life. He met Mary in the garden, as she went about a task which was common in that society, the anointing of the dead. He met two disciples returning home from Jerusalem after Passover. Another ordinary time and ordinary task, along with a lot of confusion about what had happened to Jesus. They were walking and talking and Jesus walked and talked with them. He stood on the shore as a group fishermen, his friends, were trying to catch some fish and failing. In fact they had given up. He give instructions as to how to catch a boatload of fish and proceeded to make them breakfast. Every time, it was a chance for a new beginning, a new life. Morning had broken. The eighth day.

This year as we celebrate Easter, I want to remember this especially, that God calls us to be faithful, not fantastic. He accepts our everyday faithfulness, walks with us and will one day clothe us in splendor as we see him in glory. I want to remember a simple song which praises God our creator and gives us a glimpse of the new heavens and new earth, written by a woman who loved God enough to express it in a children's verse.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I Will Follow

Not only is this the title to an early U2 song, but what Jesus calls us to do. It is not easy. To follow requires listening, watching, trusting and obeying. In a very real sense there are no leaders in the church, only followers. There are those who want to be leaders, but the problem with taking on the label and position of leader, is that one receives the focus and the faith of those who should be looking to and putting their faith in Jesus. For those called to be teachers, evangelists, apostles, etc., the call is not to lead, but to point, to say, "Come and see", not, "Follow me and we'll do great things."

David Horn writes how taking on big visions, big schemes from "leaders" in the church is just the opposite of what Jesus called us to do. He uses a quote from Bonhoeffer's book, Life Together to illustrate the pitfalls of taking on the role of leader.
God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others, and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own law, and judges the brethren and God Himself accordingly. He stands adamant, a living reproach to all others in the circle of brethren. He acts as if he is the creator of the Christian community, as if his dream binds men together. When things do not go his way, he calls the effort a failure. When his ideal picture is destroyed, he sees the community going to smash. So he becomes first an accuser of his brethren, then an accuser of God, and finally the despairing accuser of himself.
I titled this post, I Will Follow, not because I do it well, or even want it well, but because Jesus has called. He has instructed his disciples to proclaim the Kingdom, to feed, to heal, to instruct, to serve, to become like children, to die to self, to love. This idea of leading is our own invention and desire, and one which I am prone to buy into. I think we in the church have done this because what Jesus calls us to do is just so hard. How much we must rely on his grace.