Tonight, Tonight – Sometimes You’ve Just Got to Jam

It’s a dreary gray day here in South Carolina.  We need the rain and I’m loving the cooler weather.  I’d probably be down with the gray skies too except it’s doing more pouting and looking gloomy than actually raining.  Let’s get it going clouds!

It’s funny to me how much the weather can affect our moods.  Every Wednesday when I would write the Wesley Weekly email to the students I finally realized I talk about the weather all the time.  My desk faces some big windows so you see where mind is.

Right now I’m closing out our Summer newsletter getting ready for a conference and doing various crazy things that are on the never-ending to do list.  But I’m reminded how easy it is to get derailed.  You can get some bad news or read something on facebook or email or hear about a meeting where your name came up or remember something that can send your day in a spiral.  Or you could in general not be feeling well or be in the midst of something that has you just feeling blah.  Sometimes I’ll find myself not in the greatest of moods and I’ll have I try to remember – when did I start feeling this way?  Is this just a general “funk” or did something prompt this?

We all have different triggers.  Some of those are questions about the future or if we’re really living our vocation or what we’re called to do or money concerns or health concerns or family worries or whatever.  There’s all sorts of anxieties and fears out there and it’s almost like the lie in wait for us in the shadows ready to jump is or being to creep in.

I have this funny suspicion that Jesus doesn’t want us to live a life of burdensome worries and mopey-ness.  I’m not saying Jesus wants you to be sunshine and rainbows all the time and I totally believe he walks with us in the most mopey of mopeys, but I also think there are some days when we’ve just go to jam.

The song, “Tonight, Tonight” by Hot Chelle Rae keeps popping up on my radio and I keep playing it on my youtube at work.  Don’t worry I haven’t watched all 5 million times that it says it’s been viewed.  Do you ever just jam in your car when you hear a song that is just fun and funny and you just start dancing and digging it?  Or have you ever done that with a group of friends or on a retreat or whatever?  I distinctly have some of those memories with Faith Hill’s This Kiss and Macy Gray and the Dixie Chicks.

I’ve been playing this song, one to keep me moving and awake on this dreary day, but also because it’s fun to jam sometimes.  Can you picture Jesus jamming along with you?  A stretch?  Maybe not.  But I can totally feel like sometimes we just have to let go and get moving.  Sometimes that means regrouping.  Sometimes that means some new inspiration. Can you hear Jesus being the one that says, “Come on?”  or “We can get crazy, let it all out.”  Now I’m so not saying that this was the intent of this wonderful Hot Chelle Rae.  Probably far from it.

But I am thankful for this sort of fun music that make you feel like you’re joining a live, active, vibrant party.  It’s not always a party day, but I’d like to think that Jesus invites us to the dance and seeks to give us that abundant rockin’ life!

So if you come by office today, be prepared – you could see a very silly and terribly dancing Narcie.  Join in.  Dance.  Have some fun.  Even on a rainy day.  Even the uncoordinated kids.  Even the serious and grouchy among us.  Even the ones that certainly don’t have time for this.

Join the dance.

And may that energy and passion and fun and levity and release and liberating feeling bleed over into our faith.  Yep, life can be challenging at times, but it’s also awesome and amazing and so much to be thankful for!  This isn’t a prosperity Gospel but it is join in on the freedom and contagious fun of life in Christ!

Hello!

I readily admit that I am a lover of Broadway.  Love it!  Especially musicals.  From the first time I saw Cats in the 6th grade to Wicked to Avenue Q to Phantom to Promises, Promises to In the Heights to most recently The Book of Mormon, there’s something about a story being acted out in the midst of great acting, catchy songs, and neat stages/dancing/the whole atmosphere that I just can’t get enough of.  I know, I know – it’s a long way to Broadway.  But there’s loads of shows that come through even wonderful South Carolina.  And you could see the Legally Blonde musical on MTV or the anniversary special of Les Mis on PBS or even bootlegging from your wonderful youtube.  There’s just something about being transported and watching really great art – singing, dancing, acting, the amazing orchestra – the whole experience.

So that’s the place I’m coming from when Mike won tickets to the Book of Mormon and we could see the whole thing from boxed seats and into the orchestra.  I’m not the hugest fan in the world of South Park.  I think it’s sometimes funny – the episodes about Tom Cruise, Scientology, Mormons, the Christian rock band, those I can find the humor and appreciate it.  I’m not a fan of the overkill of language and violence but I know that is part of what they’re trying to speak to.  I get that.  I had no idea what to expect out of this musical.  I had read about it in Entertainment Weekly and how they described it as “an atheist’s love letter to religion.”

I was pleasantly surprised.  Yes, there’s some awful language.  So much so in parts that I can’t even describe some of the songs.  But how real and open they were to work with real issues and serious situations in the midst of the hilarity and satire, was a unique look about religion, faith, and just how cruddy or overly fake life can appear to be and yet how real and authentic it is.

I think about this how end of the world hoohah right now.  When we were in New York people were wearing signs and handing out brochures in Times Square about our upcoming May 21st big day.  One of the newspapers quoted a retired bus driver who had put in over $40,000 to get the word out to the “unbelievers.”  That’s a whole lot of money to put out there.  It also quoted a bunch of people who had already quit their jobs and sold their houses.  I can’t even imagine that kind of….what’s the word….devotion?  (lots of other adjectives that could be used here)

In the opening song of The Book of Mormon and also as part of the finale there’s a song called “Hello!” and it’s a melody of Mormons doing their somewhat cliched ringing of doorbells and introducing people to the Book of Mormon.  I wouldn’t say the musical is completely anti-Mormon, but it certainly does poke major fun and lots of holes and questions about the legitimacy of Mormonism.  It talks about these missionaries being dropped into these communities and not really caring how the people are actually doing or how they live, but only caring about witnessing.  Now I’d like to get on my high horse and say that the United Methodist Church doesn’t do that – we’re working with communities, handing out bed nets, providing food, clean water, education.  You can’t deny that UMCOR rocks.  Very true.

But do we care enough to give our $40,000 savings to anyone or anything to get out any kind of message?  I’m not saying you should start shelling out money a la to some televangelist – quite the contrary.  I’m just saying, I don’t know how many of us are willing to part with our life savings for anything.  And definitely not to our churches.

What do our missionaries look like?  And not just our missionaries because that’s putting it off on just a few, but what do we look like as we share the Gospel?  Do we share a Gospel with strings attached or just the simple bare basics in our every day lives?  Do we tell people how our scripture could change their lives?  Do we share how Jesus is relevant to our lives today?  Have any of us shared scripture with someone else, much less a Bible?  Do we think that’s too pushy or too “something”?

It’s great that we are doing Change the World weekends as a UMC.  Really great.  That’s what we should be doing.  But all the time and all the churches.  Too much to ask?  Maybe so.  But if we as a church – not just UMC, but all of us – aren’t doing something, living something, breathing something, actually giving a fig about something enough to put our time, hearts, and money where are mouths are, than what are we doing?

Hello!

True Story about Ducks

Something really cute happened in downtown San Antonio this week. Michael R. is an accounting clerk at Frost Bank and works there in a second story office.  Several weeks ago, he watched a mother duck choose the concrete awning outside his window as the unlikely place to build a nest above the sidewalk. The mallard laid ten eggs in a nest in the corner of the planter that is perched over 10 feet in the air. She dutifully kept the eggs warm for weeks, and Monday afternoon all of her ten ducklings hatched.

 

 Michael worried all night how the momma duck was going to get those babies safely off their perch in a busy, downtown, urban environment to take to water, which typically happens in the first 48 hours of a duck hatching.
Tuesday morning, Michael watched the mother duck encourage her babies to the edge of the perch with the intent to show them how to jump off.  Office work came to a standstill as everyone gathered to watch.

The mother flew down below and started quacking to her babies above. In disbelief Michael watched as the first fuzzy newborn trustingly toddled to the edge and astonishingly leapt into thin air, crashing onto the cement below.  Michael couldn’t stand to watch this risky effort nine more times!  He dashed out of his office and ran down the stairs to the sidewalk where the first obedient duckling, near its mother, was resting in a stupor after the near-fatal fall.  Michael stood out of sight under the awning-planter, ready to help. 

As the second one took the plunge, Michael jumped forward and caught it with his bare hands before it hit the concrete. Safe and sound, he set it down it by its momma and the other stunned sibling, still recovering from that painful leap.  (The momma must have sensed that Michael was trying to help her babies.)

One by one the babies continued to jump. Each time Michael hid under the awning just to reach out in the nick of time as the duckling made its free fall.  At the scene the busy downtown sidewalk traffic came to a standstill.  Time after time, Michael was able to catch the remaining eight and set them by their approving mother.

At this point Michael realized the duck family had only made part of its dangerous journey. They had two full blocks to walk across traffic, crosswalks, curbs and past pedestrians to get to the closest open water, the San Antonio River , site of the famed “River Walk.”  The on looking office secretaries and several  San Antonio police officers joined in.  An empty copy-paper box was brought to collect the babies.
They carefully corralled them, with the mother’s approval, and loaded them in the container. Michael held the box low enough for the mom to see her brood. He then slowly navigated through the downtown streets toward the San Antonio River The mother waddled behind and kept her babies in sight, all the way.

As they reached the river, the mother took over and passed him, jumping in the river and quacking loudly.
At the water’s edge, Michael tipped the box and helped shepherd the babies toward the water and to the waiting mother after their adventurous ride.

All ten darling ducklings safely made it into the water and paddled up snugly to momma. Michael said the mom swam in circles, looking back toward the beaming bank bookkeeper, and proudly quacking.

At last, all present and accounted for: “We’re all together again.  We’re here!  We’re here!”

And here’s a family portrait before they head outward to further adventures.. .

Like all of us in the big times of our life, they never could have made it alone without lots of helping hands.

I also couldn’t help but think about Tom Conlon’s song, “Bird’s Fly.”  Which you can hear on his myspace page – http://www.myspace.com/tomconlonmusic