Woke up very unsettled early this morning, after dreaming about a totally disastrous, derailed, and dead in the water New Hope church service (yeah, this is what constitutes a nightmare for me!). Whenever I go to sleep questioning some element or another of what we do as a church, this kind of fitful sleep usually results (often in response to someone making a comment that day about how we do church). I should know better than to fall asleep before resolving the issue in my mind. This time it was just a very small thing that was said, “I liked it when we used to do it that other way”, and it poked at my pride. It was nothing at all really. Minuscule in fact. And you’d think a normal person would just let it slide, but my pride, it seems, didn’t want to do that. It likes to make mountains out of molehills. Not all the time – which is a mystery – but this time, big time. It’s like the self inflating reservoir that is my pride has slowly, and imperceptively filled over time. And I have no idea that it’s happened until it’s poked. Then I realize how bloated my ego has become.
So how did God poke a hole in my puffed up psyche this time? By reminding me of Shirley, the Walmart greeter I’d met earlier this week (for my sermon entitled, God’s face in a Walmart greeter). Before meeting her, I wondered if I’d ever be willing to do a job like hers? I’d even thought that it might be cool to try her job out for a couple of hours (incarnational sermon research). But I couldn’t…(now this is pathetic)… because I was too worried about someone I know seeing me do it. So lying in bed this morning a single word comes to mind as I’m envisioning Shirley’s humble, serving face; “Kenosis”. The theological idea that Jesus wilfully put some of his godness aside to take on human flesh in order to humbly love, serve and save us. Jesus came from heaven to earth and endured great suffering, washed feet, took ridicule and abuse, in order to love, serve and save us. The truth that Shirley embodied is Christ’s! God did this for you. Surely you can serve in this same way for others.
Almost instantly my pride dissipated. And my heart was at rest. And the small comment that that person had made seemed a good suggestion to me. And the sermon topic that I’d chosen for Sunday felt more affirmed. And my unclear sermon schedule for this season of Lent became clear; I’m gonna focus on becoming less, serving others, humility and selflessness (and I’ll do this series the way we used to do it, “that other way”).