rom Stone to Living Word: Letting the Bible Live Again. Rev. Blue is one of the co-founders of The House of Mercy, a church in St. Paul, MN. She has a way of writing that takes your mind out of the book, which is transforms/translates the Biblical witness into a raw breathing and bloodied gospel. It's tanglible, palatable, visceral. Rev. Blue doesn't simply take you from the ivory tower of academia but she smashes it to pieces and frees you to get dirty and rejoice in living or be pissed about it--to be real about one's life, Jesus' life, and this Christian faith we are a part of. I love reading it. I even looked her up on facebook and sent her an email thanking her for writing the book. She either has a life or does not care for stalkers--either way I'm perfectly fine with that.
Anyway, I've always been the "dirty" girl--getting my hands dirty, not afraid to let out a few curse words. In seminary, I led a worship service about prision ministry and while reading letters from some of the imprisioned women I dropped the f-bomb multiple times (yes from the pulpit). I did preface myself by saying that the world is dirty and harsh and if we are to minister to the world we can't be offended or afraid to get dirty ourselves and hence I was toning any of the language down. It was appropriate--not just me dropping the f-bomb for fun.
Lately though, I've been pretty darn clean. I've been working in the office, working on putting together our newsletter, crafting bulletins, doing paperwork, and it seems that if I wasn't doing that I was sleeping cuz I was really sick. This morning I was thinking how I don't always feel like myself, I'm not as free. I'm now the pastor and so I need to be shinier, less dirty. But as I savor Rev. Blue's words I begin to feel some slick of mud splatter and I feel a bit more like me.
Wer'e doing a Lenten study of Jonah and I've been reading scripture from Jonah instead of the lectionary's call for Genesis. I love Jonah. He's a huge jerk who thinks he's so much better than everyone else. Jonah is sorta like the church. We come in on Sundays, sometimes for Bible study during the week and feel pretty darn good about ourselves. Yeah, we're holy. Or so we tell ourselves. We snub the woman who lives down the block. She's married to a pig, she's left him 5 times or so and she's trying to again but we know she'll just go back. Do we help her? Do we even say hello? Hell no! She's a pain and sorta rude, sorta crude even. Yep, we're Jonah. We're either too good to deal with people like that or we're too afraid what it might costs us if we try to help.
I've always loved that Jonah gets vomited up on the shore. It makes me smile a bit, laugh on the inside as I think "ICK!" at him getting thrown up with stomach juices, maybe a bit sticky and definately stinky. I would like to know what Rev. Blue would make of getting vomited up.
That was this morning. This afternoon I ended up at Jesus Creed reading Scot McNight's take on the church. He wants us to forget about needing the church to be perfect and holy and instead engage in Augustinian ecclesiology which I understood to mean that the church is not supposed to be holy and clean and pretty. The church is a bunch of screw-ups who happen to love and want to follow Jesus. Now that's my kind of church! Really, how can it be anything else?
Lastly (for today), I was at a worship retreat with Marcia McFee (who is awesome!) and she talked about a church which had these great worship services but behind the scenes the people were fighting and bickering, it was a big ugly mess (my words not hers). As she continued to talk about why it was difficult but because of learning/worship/personality styles it was appearing to work well, I zoned out wondering how in the world they could have a good worship, a real worship, a meaningful worship if they were angry with each other behind the scenes. I've never expected worship to be perfect but have always thought that worship needed cohesion at least between the leaders/folks working together to create real and authentic worship. Yet, here was a great worship leader and designer saying a group was doing it. It was as though a cartoon bulb lit up in my brain--God can and does work in our brokeness! How often do I or have I preached exactly that and yet here I was shocked by the fact that Jesus walks into a room with people fighting and still manages to touch the hearts of others that are there!?!
I thought I understood what it meant to get and be dirty but I needed a good dose of Augustian ecclesiology!