But Mostly Me…

Y’all know I’m a lover of Broadway and with all of the Tony’s it received Sunday night – I’m not the only one who thinks The Book of Mormon is one of the funniest and heart-felt musicals to hit Broadway in a while.

The story follows Elder Price and Elder Cunningham as they are sent to Uganda, Africa.  Elder Price really had his heart set on Orlando, but they’re sent to Uganda.  All sorts of hilarity as well as the tension of real issues of faith, theodicy and how to deal with the crud of life ensues.

One of the songs at the beginning of the musical that highlights Elder Price’s being the shining star of all things and his belief that he’s going to rock anything he does is called “You and Me (But Mostly Me).”  I think it says a ton about how we see ourselves in ministry sometimes.  Rev. Bob Howell during his leadership seminar during Annual Conference talked about the Lone Ranger who have heard about a ton in the old model of ministry.  In the midst of an election year, there’s always a bit of the sense of self-promotion or arrogance or those type words that get thrown around.  Thoughts like – but I’m smarter than the person or have put more years of service in or have a harder appointment or would study harder or would be more balanced or am wiser than so and so.  There’s a sense of competition or a if this person gets this, what does that say about me kind of thing that takes place sometimes.  I don’t entirely know how we combat that, but I feel like a lot of it is setting a tone that we are all in this together and that it’s for the good of the church.

Who wouldn’t want to be the one to do this big thing???  That’s sort of what the song is saying.  But you know – how much more powerful and contagious is an entire movement???  I don’t see the GC and JC folks we elected as having these shiny halos or spotlights on them like movie stars, but as servants of the church that stepped up and who are making decisions in the church with all of us.  The thing about the present and future of our church whether you’re a death tsunami-er or a let’s die to live person or a let’s just get the Spirit of God moving and continue growing into what it means to be Church-er, we all want the same thing.  Or at least I hope we are.  I don’t care if one person or a body of people or what I’d like – a movement of people – begin this renewal, reformation, outpouring of the Spirit, commitment to prayer, spiritual practices and the scripture – putting it all into action.  We just need to do it.  To live it.  To breathe it.  To commit to it.  To prayerfully and intentionally go forward.

We are all in this together.  Whether fresh out of seminary, whether just commissioned or ordained, whether second career, whether retired, whether right in the middle of our pastoral ministry, whether young or old or not wanting to be classified as either, whether man or woman, no matter where we are on our journey or what we may look like.

How do we feel when the person beside us is lifted up?  What are our motivations?  What role or part can we play in our particular time and place?  What does renewal in The United Methodist Church look like?  Not just what’s a vital congregation or Call to Action, but what does renewal and revival look like where you are?  What are the gifts and graces given to each of us?  How can those be used?  Instead of just hearing and absorbing what we hear and learn and are inspired by, what are our next steps?

For some of us, we hear these inspiring things at conferences or on podcasts or in articles and we’re so tired and worn out and blah from the day to day or the uphill battles, that it’s hard to go forward.  See, the thing about being lone rangers and thinking it’s all about us, is that we forget that we’re all in this together.  Not just a cliche or a good thing to throw out there in theory or during a presentation, but seriously.  Is there someone that you can be for real with and can bust open the good, the bad, and the ugly, and you know it will be okay?  Who do we depend on to be our church?

This is not just a “but mostly me” but something that if we are to survive, if we are to be a stronger, healthier, more grounded body – we’ve got to be supporters, advocates, confidants, friends to each other.

This isn’t just the church or ministry folk, but all of us.  It’s not about this congregation or that.  It’s not just about shuffling our membership to churches as we like the pastor or not or the youth program or not or that they talk too much about money or focus too much on social justice.  It’s about what’s essential and what the mission of the Church is.  How do WE make disciples?  How are WE in ministry WITH the community?  How are WE growing and learning and changing and praying and leading and growing?

It’s a heck of a lot more exciting and a lot less pressure when it’s not just all about me, but about all of us.  Let’s celebrate that.

How and why do we make it all about us???  What are some assumptions and world views that might change if it’s not so me-centric?  What does the Bible say about all this me stuff???  How is evangelism a whole new ball game when it’s just about you, but it’s about the world?

Bahahahahaha…

Is laughter the best medicine?  I’m not talking about giggles or polite laughter at a joke or a reference that’s not really funny but you’re supposed to insert said appropriate laughter here.  I’m talking for real, serious, tears streaming down the face laughter.

Earlier this semester the lovely Nick Jeffries from Camp Chestnut Ridge came and did some great team building stuff with our campus ministry.  We did a mirroring exercise where we all stood in a circle and we’re supposed to be copying another person in the circle, so let’s say I was supposed to be copying Jane, Jane is copying Chris, Chris is copying Malcolm, Malcolm is copying Lisa and Lisa is copying me.  It only takes one person to start copying a random thing and people are cracking up.  Or at least people like me are cracking up.  There’s something that is absolutely contagious about laughter and being silly that if we let our guards down even in the most stressful of times in the semester, we will readily and eagerly “go there” and crack up for awhile.

Tonight Mike and I went to see the movie Bridesmaids (yes, insert all sorts of cautions, parental controls, and other red flags here).  I saw it a conference a week or so ago and laughed so hard I cried, multiple times.  In telling Mike about the movie, I couldn’t figure out if the movie was really funny or if merely watching it with a theater full of laughing people and joining in laughing at the movie but also laughing at their reactions and raucous laughter was the thing that made it so hilarious.  After now seeing the movie twice (judge away, judge away), I definitely think it’s both.  This isn’t just some gross out, perverted, lame-o, insert fomulaic jokes here kind of movie.  Yes, there are some pretty “wild” (what word can you really put there?) scenes, but there’s also a good story as well.  A realistic story even.  Or at least more realistic than a lot of the crazy stuff out there.  The movie has heart.

But just as much as the movie has a hilarious and edgy heart, it’s also a beautiful thing to just be sitting in a theater with a room full of laughing people.  And this isn’t just normal self-conscious laughter, this is I don’t care who’s around I am laughing outloud and for real.  So much laughter.  There was one guy that was laughing so hard and loud that several of us just died laughing listening to him.  Seriously, several of us began to laugh so hard we were crying just because it was like this domino affect just listening and joining in on laughter.

There is something special about laughter.  Smiles.  Seeing them.  Hearing it.  Sharing it.  It can lighten a moment even in the most darkest and trying of times.  It can bring people together that don’t even have words to speak to one another.  It can break the ice on an awkward date.  It can be that camraderie in a scary situation, a nervous interview, or that spontaneous a ha moment when it all comes together.  It can even be the laughter that springs forth out of you randomly when someone is calling you on your stuff or providing a truthful but real revelation on what’s up in your life.

Beyond just turning that frown upside down, laughter is a uniter.  Not laughter or happiness at the misfortune of others – well maybe some of that in movies and America’s Funniest Home Videos.  What’s special is that contagious, joyous, surprise of laughter.

There are a multitude of youtube videos on laughter – from laughter yoga with the  lovely with the hilarious John Cleese to all sorts of songs and chains and challenges.  Check them out.  Do what it takes to laugh.  Everybody needs those moments of abs hurting laughter in the midst of our sometimes crazy world.  If Bridesmaids is not your thing try some knock knock jokes or going to a comedy club or even laughing at the hilarity that can sometimes be our lives.  Laugh long and laugh loud and don’t care a bit about who’s watching or listening.  (Even if that means snorting or guffawing in the most endearing of manners.)

I like that in the movie, Megan tells Annie that she’s got to grab on to her life.  Instead of just letting it knock her down, she’s got to have some fight left in her to claim it as her own.  I know, I know.  I shouldn’t try to wax eloquent about the movie at this point.  However, if you have seen the movie, hopefully this song will make you laugh.  If you haven’t seen it.  Very cheesily, hold on to one more day.  Laugh.  Outloud.  Break free from whatever chains.  Know that there is someOne who can break the chains and wants to laugh with us every day, even in the midst of the muck and the mire.