As the afternoon sun pours in my classroom window, it highlights the swirling particles that are mostly invisible throughout the day. I’m shelving the wonderful classics and mysteries I’ve collected over the years for my students, and restoring the colorful poetry books to their spot in the top basket.
On the rug, I see the most worn and popular book from the collection: Ripley’s Believe It or Not! The book is thicker than it was when new because of the heavy circulation and grubby fingers wrinkling and adding texture to the pages. Year after year, I see the fascination and appeal in the odd, the curiosity of the unusual; the freakish.
As we’ve been studying the book of John in the Narrative Lectionary four-year cycle, I keep coming back to
How do we better inspire each other to live in the Spirit and have some good church?!
the theme, Come and See. John invites us to see Jesus going nuts in the temple, healing people on the fringe, and visiting with Nicodemus about things that could rock his world and completely alter his identity. In John 3:3, Jesus tells Nicodemus, “I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
He invites us to submit to the Spirit and see things in a different way, often threatening our comfort, security, and stubbornly-held ways of thinking.
Recently enjoying the movie The Greatest Showman, I was struck by some of the parallels to the Gospel message:
A group of outsiders can find purpose and freedom together when given the opportunity.
Love is bigger than social standing, skin color, and cultural identity.
People can be suspicious of and threatened by a ringleader who loves the unlovable.
With the help of fellow believers, there is power in community that can take what the world sees as a handicap and turn it into a strength.
An advocate can help turn people’s shame into something beautiful.
In this video, the actress and singer Keala Settle is practicing the song "This is Me" from the film, and at one point in the singing, she starts to feel it. She casts the music stand aside, and starts moving among the other cast members and musicians. Her spirit is contagious, and the other folks in the room go from looking like bored seventh graders in a smelly junior-high chorus room to a Gospel choir on a good day at church.
What if we did the same?! Can we embrace the Gospel message, a challenge to come out of our comfort zones, to let others know about the kingdom of God? Are we brave enough to rub shoulders and live life with the outsiders? How do we better inspire each other to live in the Spirit and have some good church?!
When we approached my son’s church on a snowy Christmas Eve in Chicago, he pointed out a beautiful Gothic-style church building across the street. It is no longer a church, but a training venue for circus performers. We laughed, knowing there was a deeper lesson to be pondered there. I’m trying to be more open to those lessons, more bravely sensing the Spirit, and looking to see those oft-hidden particles that are swirling all around us.
Step right up, folks, for the greatest show in Heaven and on Earth! Come and see!
Teresa Cornett's favorite question from others is "what do you think about ... ?!” so she loves to write when she gets a chance to mouth off.