Fun is hallmark of spiritual growth - I hope. Years ago someone came to me deeply upset because we weren’t going to use incense on [insert special day]. I invisibly scratched my head and nodded and said “I’m sorry” wondering if they were serious. Yes - deadly serious. I laughed an uncomfortable, sardonic laugh and said that we have not had incense at Ascension, since like ever. They were gone two weeks later. Now, I think I would probably just effect a stage cough and tell them how sad I am that I don’t smell like covered up bong smoke too. They would probably still leave, but church is too important to take so seriously. Maybe we all can be a half millimeter less uptight - the world of hair-trigger offences is not the church’s best rodeo.
Yoga - a personal mission
If you've talked to me for more than 10 minutes, you know that I am a gym rat. I practice yoga all the time, and it is a centerpiece of my spirituality. No, I am not into Ganesh, Shiva, or Shakti, but I do know that hips don’t lie. After a decade of consistent yoga practice, and Shakira aside, the barrier between body and soul grows thinner and thinner for me. I am still truculent, petty, emotional, grumpy, etc. It is just that now I see the emotion train coming down the track far earlier than I used to, and have the skills to recover faster after the train has hit me square in the stomach.
Maybe yoga is so personally important because quietly praying with a devotional bores me senseless. I love scripture; it guides everything I do and it supports insight, but eureka moments are almost always filtered through my body and not my noggin. Unfortunately my brain is far too scattered to focus, so I have to stalk insight like a cat.
You can blame Ana Forrest and her book Fierce Medicine if the next two paragraphs are too weird. She writes about stalking, tracking and hunting her fear. I have learned that insight needs to be stalked, tracked and hunted in the same way. When you are hunting, you need lots of patience and attentiveness.
Cats bring this out in me. They don't lumber up to you like a dog, and a cat's affection is not rewarded to the impatient. You put out your hand, but you don’t approach the cat directly unless you want it to bolt. Sometimes the cat bolts anyway. I have learned to patiently wait for insight by showing up in prayer and study. I have rarely found the word-of-the-Lord when, as if by force of will, I think I can force God to bless me. If, however, I commit to being available, Jesus in his own good time comes up and licks my hand with his sand paper tongue to reveal himself. When I don’t insist that God speak to me or insist that my body open up – both happen along the way.
Back to the Mission
The Church has a mission given by Jesus. At the end of Matthew, he said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.” Despite how awesome I may or may not be, the authority, the authorship, for the church belongs to Jesus. I know we can follow his lead and all will be well.
Mission Statement workshop
A few weeks ago, we had our “Mission Statement Workshop” with 16 key leaders to help us think about our mission. Here is what we came up with:
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. With our shoes on, we can live into Jesus’ promises that the gates of Hell, apathetic teenagers, or Sunday brunch won’t prevail over the church.
Our vision consultant reminded us that a mission statement is not about us, but about what God wants to do through us for the world. Our job as disciples of Christ here at Ascension is not to save the institution, but to renew the church and strengthen the Kingdom of Jesus.