A Mediocre Altar

I would describe 2017 overall as mediocre.  It wasn’t amazing, but there were amazing moments.  It wasn’t horrible, although there were some really tough moments.  It was just…okay….and when I reflect on 2017, I can giggle and shrug and say, “Well, I tried.” And try I did. I tried to “be good” at the 328 things I think I should succeed at. No major failures, no real huge success either.  Sort of “meh”…..if you will.  It was a mediocre year for me.  Lucky for me (and you) God isn’t mediocre, yet he meets us in our mediocrity and makes those places worshipful and Holy.  It is strange and wonderful.

Where do we worship? Physically? Mentally? In a building or outside? Typically, we think of worship as what we do on Sunday mornings at 9 or 10:30. We (sometimes) dress up and make ourselves presentable. Our church building is this way, too.  We have a lovely altar, communion table, candles and flowers.  I think it’s great to have such a beautiful sanctuary to worship in on Sunday mornings.  But when we leave the building….where do we worship next? Do we worship outside of Sunday at 10am? Or can we worship anywhere else?

The answer is yes, we can and should be worshipful in all aspects of our lives. But what does that look like? Are we worshiping God when we’re at work, sitting in a dreadful meeting? What about taking a final exam? What about sitting in a doctor’s appointment, hearing bad news? What about standing in line for 15 minutes at King Kullen the day before a blizzard? Can God be worshiped then?

Again, the answer is yes, worship can happen all of those places. The Bible tells us that “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters”. –Colossians 3:23

Colossians 3:23....from my altar

Sometimes our altar is clean, sometimes it’s messy, and sometimes where we worship God – or spend time with Him – is not in the place we expect.  Where is your altar in between attending an actual church service?

My altar is the kitchen sink. I don’t know what evil goblins wander into the kitchen and create dirty dishes all day long, but they exist.  I swear I can be home alone and there be no dishes…..I can take the dog for a walk, come back and find a plate, knife and coffee mug sitting there.  The washing machine is a close second.  I can remember early in our marriage when I would do 4 loads of laundry (including towels) a week. That’s it. Somehow adding 2 small people we have at least tripled that. Is this the new common core math everyone complains about? I don’t get it. But you get my point….a lot of time goes into dishes and laundry.

I have discovered a wonderful aspect of these never-ending chores….time to myself to talk to God. To pray. To ask questions. Two very average, normal, boring, mediocre altars.  God meets us where we are, where we need him to.  We do not need to wait until Sunday morning, or until we have a lovely altar – he will meet us where we need him when we look to him.

I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:4-8

My altar.

 

Be Known for What you Love…

Feeling divided? Raise your hand if you’re counting down the hours until this election is over. All of us? Of course – the one thing we can all agree on is that this race/battle/circus is ridiculous and simply needs to stop.  Each commercial, debate, seems to push us to either get further against the opponent, stick our head in the sand or simply check Canadian real estate. At the very least a vacation home that can be rented in 4 year increments.

A more light-hearted example would be the Coke vs. Pepsi debate. In the south, there is Coca Cola – if you asked for a soda, they would say “Sure, which Coke would you like?” Meaning: diet, regular, sprite etc.  In many places they have great disdain for Pepsi to the point where they deny it exists.  In our house, we often have the debate of what to eat for dinner or what to watch on TV.  The kids can’t stand the news, Sam wants to watch something with cars or sports, Ellie wants to watch something that goes on adventures. It is not uncommon for the “TV show protests” to end in crying or lying on the ground, yelling and complaining how terrible Blaze and the Monster Machines or Elena of Avalor is.  OR the loser getting a noisy toy or activity just to drive everyone else bonkers. We get divided and everyone makes their feelings well known.

I’m glad that we live in a country where we can speak freely….and freely argue……with those we differ from. Even amongst my Christian friends and family there is clear division about issues.  When Christians become divided by beating each other up, insulting and hurting each other, and our activism ends up hurting the church, and that is wrong. What is it that we are being “known” for? My son is known for not liking vegetables and loving race cars. Ellie is known for loving Penguins and not wanting to go to bed. What am I known for?

I have a dear friend who has said multiple times: Be known for what you love, not for what you hate.  Dear church – this is for you. Are we being known for what we love or what we hate?  What is the common foundation – that is bigger than politics – that binds us together? Recently on Sunday we sang “The Church’s One Foundation”, it reminds me of what our foundation truly is (and should be)– and it is certainly not some of the issues we might think.mlk-love

The Church’s one foundation, is Jesus Christ her Lord,

She is His new creation by water and the Word.

From heaven He came and sought her to be His holy bride;

With His own blood He bought her, and for her life He died.

 

I would challenge you (and myself) over the next few days especially to think before you speak, pray before you “share on Facebook”, and listen before you plug your ears. We are called to love each other and point each other to the ultimate love of Jesus. Be KNOWN for what you LOVE.

heart-rock