Who ever thought a photo booth at our Public Meeting would cause this much controversy? During the season of Advent, one of
the ideas we had was to showcase all of the fun that we have during our festive Public Meetings at Broad & Dauphin by asking some of the photographers to create a photo booth for us. We figured with some cute wrapping paper and props, every Sunday might be like a Christmas party! Waiting for Jesus can be fun and exciting, so why not bring that energy to our weekly celebration?
Well, I was surprised when our very passionate and committed leaders didn’t see eye-to-eye on that point. I’m excited that we have engaged people who offer opinions, are open to dialogue, and want to process their emotions and thoughts well. Some of our people were concerned that we were being too worldly; that showcasing our fun on Facebook was a way of bragging and not including; that some people wouldn’t feel comfortable taking pictures; that it might exacerbate self-image issues; that it might even isolate some. Wow! Our leaders demonstrate such an amazing amount of sensitivity. I appreciate that level of thoughtfulness.
I offered a retort. I actually want to be “in the world,” and all things to all people—so why wouldn’t I celebrate the way any normal American might? Almost all of my friends are on Facebook, so, to me, that’s one of the best ways to reach them. I know some might not feel comfortable taking photos, and that’s O.K., we allow people to enter in as they can, anyway. I want to love well and help others feel welcome, so taking a picture with them might be another great entry point.
Still, I wondered why we would be down with a photo booth at a Christmas party or a wedding (my wedding had one, in fact!), but not at our public meeting. What was it about public worship that made this any different? We spent the last several weeks at Broad & Dauphin stretching our senses to see God in every avenue and capacity, so I wondered why we had difficulty seeing God in this one. Why are we having difficulty worship in this new way?
Sarah Mueller, who offered us the message at the PM last night, kept me thinking about this. She profiled John the Baptist (or Baptizer, if you like), as a radical individual who sacrificed a lot in this world to prepare the way for the Lord. He’s the messenger about whom Isaiah and Malachi prophesied.
She referenced an era in the early 1970s known as the “Jesus Revolution,” where people loudly and proudly proclaimed Jesus around the nation. They were known as Jesus freaks. Although we live in a different era, Sarah wondered out loud where our sense of pride has gone? Why don’t we proclaim the radical message of Jesus from the rooftops like that generation apparently did? Curtis said it’s because Christians have gotten used to their power and privilege. Lynsey thought we might sound ridiculous. Sarah opined that we might be too postmodern to declare any truth. What do you think?
I think it might be because we have a sense of shame about our faith and even our selves. That if we truly believed and understood that God loved us, we’d be talking about it all the time. And not just talking about, but living it.
Truth be told, I think we do all of the time. We live in radical community, and it is contagious. The leaders and people in Circle of Hope are a constant example of Christ’s love and they relate to others in real and authentic ways and with a great deal of humility. But I wonder what would happen if we regained some audacity of previous generations. If we acted more like John the Baptizer. If we were a little more freaky.
Maybe a photo booth wouldn’t be such a wild idea! Sometimes I think we reserve our greatest rebellion against the church. And I don’t mean just the capital-C Church, but even our community of faith. We yearn for it to meet our needs and feed us exactly the kind of food we need. And we forget to be the church and to be the feeders. We rebel against Jesus, who is in fact the greatest rebel ever—leading the greatest mutiny in history. I hope we can ally with Him, and rebel against the fear, emptiness, and greed that surrounds our world—and offer a more whole, more complete, and more full life. It starts with belief, I think. Let’s pray for the belief that Jesus does offer us that wholeness, and completeness, and fullness.