“THE BLESSING OF IMPROVISATION” WAS THE MESSAGE IN CHURCH TODAY, “A New Wine for a New Time.” The sermon was courtesy of Pastor Jonathan DeCuir, guest preacher. (Pastor Smith made a video cameo, and we all agreed he was looking close to 100%)! Now, I never intended for these blogs to be regular reflections on Sunday service, but the thing is that what happens on Sunday is quite often an extension of what I have been thinking about all week. Coincidence? I think not!
This week I was writing in my journal about loving oneself. My devotional suggested saying to the mirror, “I love you.” Yikes! Sorry, not ready for that, yet. (Why is that so hard to even consider?! Anyone else ever done that successfully)? Anyway, I got to thinking how it really is honoring God to honor oneself, to love all God’s creations, not just the other ones. And this got me thinking about discernment, and how some of us are more discerning than others about what we do with, and in, our lives. Like if you really loved yourself, would you accept scraps, bow and scrape at the feet of other humans, embrace compliments from those who do not mean them, or accept money from activities not in keeping with your values and beliefs? “Celebrate yourself,” Pastor DeCuir exhorted us. Let me tell you, when you’re sitting in church and immediately start feeling some kind of way when certain words get said — or sung — then you know it’s time to pay attention. In fact there were audible sounds from the sanctuary of ooh, huh, etc. when he told us to celebrate ourselves. So it seems I am not alone in how that hit.
A person can suffer from lack of self-love. So can a city, or even a people. Like if we buy the message long enough that we are not worthy of true love then we are vulnerable to all that is said dirty about us. I can think of a lot of ways that I have been negatively described (think inscribed, like we take these words to heart). How do we get back to self-love — not self-indulgence or selfishness, but the kind of love of self that frees us up to go out and do great things? Well, Pastor DeCuir had some suggestions.
For one thing, if we don’t keep promises to ourselves (which isn’t what we do to folks we love) then we mess with our confidence. We lose our focus, though not necessarily our faith. When we are focused, intentional about keeping those promises, for example, we stay strong. This made me think of balancing in yoga. For balancing poses you are told to choose a spot in front of you, and to focus on that spot. This aids in balance. If you look away, maybe start thinking about how you appear to others, or how somebody else’s leg is higher, or whatever, boom you’re down! You broke your promise to balance your body, you gave away your focus, and now you’re thinking maybe you just can’t do Eagle Pose at all, and maybe should just quit practicing yoga anyway. Instead of going down this dark road, Pastor DeCuir recommended we “hold space for transformation.” I mean if yoga isn’t a perfect place to practice holding space! Try to stay with me on this metaphor: I can stand in that space of Eagle Pose, shaky as it might look, until I get to that transformation of my mind that sounds something like, Well, look at you all balanced and everything, looking like some kinda yogi. You go, girl.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.Romans 12:2
A perfect Eagle Pose! (Or at least a good one.) If we find our mind is wandering, we need to adapt! To improvise. Perhaps there’s been a particular thought that typically helps bring us back to center — maybe a prayer even. But what if for some reason this time it isn’t working so well, and we continue to feel unbalanced – in class, in a relationship, at work. We’ve got to go somewhere new for our focus, for that confidence. We can’t keep going back to the well too many times, as they say. It turns out — and here’s where Pastor DeCuir might say, Lord, help me explain this part right — you can’t pour “new wine into old wineskins” (Mark 2:22). You’re in a new season, at a new point, feeling a new kind of way; so don’t go back to where you used to go, but be in the moment and let it take you where you need to go now! I mean, this pandemic has certainly given us that lesson, that opportunity. As the Pastor said today, we have been given the chance (aka forced) to be much more intentional about everything — from hugging to churchgoing, because most of us are in risk-assessment mode. (Most of us. Please don’t get me started on those who seem to think this thing ain’t real).
I wonder, sometimes, if this blog is too church-y for some readers. After all, not everyone is about the tradition that I follow. I hope that what comes through here is that I seek truths, and that that truth-seeking resonates with you even if my way of seeking does not (yet). I’ll finish up with a visual that Pastor DeCuir shared. (He likes visuals; last time he brought a box with him to illustrate how we should carry ourselves). It was a simple gesture today, the way he imitated the pouring of water into a cup and then he put his hand over that imaginary cup. We ask for things, he reminded us, and then we hinder the flow. We have to allow those cups to actually fill and run over. We can’t do that if we don’t think we’re worthy of such abundance, if we don’t love ourselves enough to receive all that there is. I am preaching to myself right now, and I am taking notes on my sermon — just the way I did on the preacher’s message today. Amen. Peace. And Namaste.