Hello friends. I have been waiting for the mood to hit me with something important to say – but I decided if I wait, I may never write again (!) so I’m just going for it. Our summer was a little nutty. We now have a beautiful, adorable 3-month-old grandson. He lives far away so we don’t get to see him enough but his Mom is so great about posting pictures every day, on a terrific app called Tiny Beans, that I feel like I get to see all his little changes. Then we had to cancel a wedding that was supposed to happen last month in Sarasota, due to the dratted Zika mosquito! Those two have been great sports, dropping back to a Plan B. And another of our sons became engaged – wow!! I’m so incredibly blessed to have these great women added to our boy-centered family (Grandson #2 is due at Christmas-time!). Update is now finished.
So, here is what is on my mind – oftentimes, church just doesn’t really do it for me. I feel like I might love the music at one church, then at another church I really connect with the message, and yet another might be all about being in a beautiful space that feels holy or has moving, historical, familiar liturgy and ceremony. And this doesn’t even get into the other folks going to the church which possibly makes the biggest difference of all.
But get all of that together under one roof? Not going to happen – at least it hasn’t for me. No offense to the rectors/pastors of the churches I’ve attended – I know it is really tough to make everyone happy.
This brings me to this amazing sermon I heard/saw on video this summer. Andy Stanley, of North Point Church outside of Atlanta, just crushes it when it comes to getting to the crux of an issue and relating it in terms that are so engaging that my mind rarely wanders to where we should go for lunch or what I need to do when I get home. This particular sermon was in Andy's Why? series and I will try to give you the basics but I really recommend you go watch it for yourself in its entirety. I heard this in July and I can’t stop thinking about it and talking about it. Jay has even told me I’m not explaining it well enough for people to “get” it (haha). http://whyseries.org/putting-religion-in-its-place session #4.
So here goes. Andy suggests that one of the big reasons Jesus came to us was to put “religion in its place.” What place is that you ask? Well, the religious leaders of the time definitely thought religion was first and foremost. They believed that one had to follow a million rules to please God – which just happened to fill these leaders’ pockets. The current train of thought was that some were pleasing God - with their lifestyle, with their tithing, for the sacrifices they were making -and others were definitely not what they would call worthy of the love of God. Jesus was an expert at showing us rather than just telling us how to live. Through Jesus, we saw, over and over again, that it is relationships that are important; love is what is crucial; caring for others is what is paramount- in God’s eyes. So, religion, in itself comes in a distant second.
Here is the line of Andy’s that keeps resounding in my mind:
YOU are more important to me than my VIEWS.
His follow-up: Don’t allow a VIEW to supersede YOU.
So, yes, I have opinions, convictions, strong beliefs, about my faith and everything else, but I care MORE about people and my relationships than all of that put together.
Right now, I think this idea is especially apropos. I’m sure you would all agree that the political situation with the Presidential race borders on totally absurd. Our sons have been especially vocal (yet respectful) with us and I appreciate hearing their opinions. Their thoughts may change my mind or they may not, but those are opinions not relationships! I would never want an opinion of mine to trump my feelings about a person - especially one of my children.
During this ridiculously busy season, try to remember what Andy said and listen and love those around you. I am going to try, too.
So that’s it. I’m going to post this before I change my mind.