Tuesday, November 29, 2005

the methodist men of west blvd. know how to rock

i spent last night with my wife at the monthly gathering of the methodist men at the united methodist church that sits next to our house. it was their annual christmas program. there was barbecue, carol singing, prayer requests and a trio of senior lady singers. all-in-all, the same emeeting could have happened in 1968 - with no changes or difference.
there was no evidence of any technology, save for a microphone that probably dated to the mid-70's, and the youngest people in the room [besides my wife and me] were all pushing 70.
tami and i were there to play a few songs from the warehouse242-style of worship - a sort of exchange of methods. we did three very stripped-down and acoustic tunes that would be regulars in our worship environment. while they were pretty quiet tunes, it was obvious VERY quickly that we were waaaay outside the norm and comfort zone for these folks.
but that's where the surprises came. two big surprises. one that i could have anticipated, [therefore not a surprise, i guess], and one that really took me aback. seriously - the surprise was in the simplicity.
the first surprise: even though TC and i were offering tunes that were incredibly foreign to these 80-year-old christians, and they were completely unfamiliar with the format, there was an incredibly warm response. there were shaky feet tapping, heads nodding, and a woman in the back in tears. the response was not the polite accommodation that i had anticipated. there seemed to be an honest and earnest desire to engage. afterward, nearly every person there spent time with tc and me to express their appreciation and - more importantly - remark on some element of one of the specifics of the songs. these folks - that are my grandparents' age - truly connected to what we were doing, and seemed to understand the different style we work within.
the second surprise: as a christian who calls a very post-modern, emerging, first-church, rock'n'roll place my worship home, i have become a bit wrapped up in the thought that the post-modern movement is here to save the church for the future. shallow, i know. self-centered, for sure. real? hardly. the second surprise was that these old folks - folks that have been committed christians for longer than i've been alive - really invest in and enjoy their 1880's style of worship and gathering. this antiquated style that i have been sure is way out of date and completely irrelevant, is incredibly vibrant for them. the hymns of john wesley are every bit as living to them as the next incredible tune by david crowder is to me. they don't need to 'freshen' anything up. they have found God where he has shown himself to them - and they have felt no desire to twist that experience to fit something they are not.
i realize that this is really what we're trying to do, too. BUT, that we are only ONE element of the body. only ONE part of His coming and engaging us.
these 85-year-olds really rocked as they sang 'it is well'.
will we be able to say the same?

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