Saturday, March 28, 2009

we are to that point

We are to the point where whenever we say our wedding date, the other person's eyes get really big and they say something like, "wow that is really soon!" I think it is one of the only times that we as a couple are wandering around on the cusp of a major life change and don't really physically appear to be there yet. For example, if we were having baby, it would be pretty obvious if you just looked at Bethany (especially 3 weeks before the due date!). I guess maybe we would be in this position if we were adopting a child. But even that is so much more private, there isn't the same comparison.

It is a fascinating proposition, to stare at yourself in the mirror and say, "I am right on the edge of a story that I will tell for the rest of my life." There is a surreal quality to all of this. I felt this way acutely when I was in Bosnia for my internship. People would tell me, and I would tell myself, that this experience will shape how I view the world for a long time. So what exactly does the monumental feel like? Is it supposed to be that much different than a normal Tuesday?

I guess I am just marveling at the fact that in the end it will be exactly like everyone says. I will forget what I did most Tuesdays or even most Saturday nights for that matter. But on April 18th something mystical and lovely is going to happen. And it will shape how I think and feel and see the world for the rest of my life. And there really isn't anything that I can do to make most Saturdays more normal and that day any less abnormal - in a good way. I think the best I can do is to ride it out. Ride the emotional and surreal waves of life and drink what I can from those cups while they are my table for that day.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Authentic Worship Experiences

There have been many times in my life where I have looked at a church service and said, "wow, if I didn't believe this was true, I would totally be out of here." Sometimes I have even looked at a worship gathering and said "I am so out of here", even though I believe it to be true. Like many in my generation, I seek authenticity in worship. This authenticity is something that is often expressed in different ways than in previous generations.

One of the largest changes in this generation has been a move away from sentimentality. Extravagant emotional experiences were often the norm in times and places where lack of technology or poverty created a material void. This void was often filled by grand romantic gestures, especially in formal events or worship experiences. In our generation, this sentimentality has come into question in as much as it is related to worship experiences. We no longer want a worship experience that gives us an emotional high as much as we want one that reflects the reality of life.

Emotional heart strings have become too easily pulled. The marketer's savvy has cheapened this sentimentality. The problem comes when someone from my generation interacts with previous generations, where this sentimentality communicates authentically real emotions. Those from my generation tend to look at that and feel as though the experience is very inauthentic. The question here is 'authentic to whom?' If the sender and the receiver of the message are communicating real emotions through culturally understandable means, the experience is truly authentic. I am the outsider for their experience. Were they trying to send that message to me, I wouldn't receive it, but I can't judge their heart and motives in this. But I, and those from my generation, do this every day.

In the end, it can be an opportunity to lay down myself and experience a different 'form' of worship than I am used to. I get to set aside my preferences in the face of their authentic communication of emotion and internal realities. This doesn't mean that I have to have the same experience they are having, but I can appreciate it.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sushi and Living Life Together

This weekend we learned a few important things,

first and foremost we learned that ingredients for sushi go a lot longer than we thought they would.

On Saturday we had a couple from Bethany's old harvest small group over to make sushi and enjoy some good food and good times together. We definitely had plenty of both. We had a ton of food. From Pot Stickers and edamame to our very own sushi rolls full of all kinds of fish and veggies (who knew that cooked Eel would be any good?). Actually...we had so much food that we were able to have some friends over from church for another round of sushi making on Sunday! And, Bethany still made 4 more tupperware containers full of left overs to take for lunches (as long as it lasts).

The most fun was being with the people. There is definitely an intimate dynamic that is present when you share a meal with some one especially in a home setting. I wonder if our cultural values of "food on the run" and "go out to eat" are actually the most intimate of things. Not to say that dining out is bad and can't be a great special occasion. But there is something simple and wonderful about a meal in a home around a table. As a single person, I found that I did that very rarely, but I do hope that I get to do that more once we are married.

Along these same lines, we have started a ministry tradition. We try to have lunch with a group of people or a couple after church. It is a great way to connect with people that you may or may not know from church and bring people together is a very relaxing atmosphere. It also is another way in which we are trying to not just attend our church but engage with people there. It is great that we can use something as simple as eating to do life together.