Say “When”

Say “When” (1,162)

May 30th, 2011

Are you familiar with that? Somebody pours a drink for you and speaks forth: “Say when!”—telling you to inform them when you’ve had enough. Of course, I’ve said “when” before, and had the pourer give me a little more—thinking he or she knew more about my toleration point than I did. It’s similar to trying to get half a glass of tea from a waitress at a restaurant. They almost universally assume that you were incorrect about the amount you desire, and go ahead and “fill it up” anyway.

Here’s the source of my curiosity: “when” does not seem like a cease and desist order. How about “stop!” for instance? Or “enough!?” Try this one: “That should do it!”

“When” just seems unresponsive to the need.

And speaking of unresponsive to the need—I am often introduced on a Sunday morning at a church by the pastor as “something different from their normal worship service.” Really? So conversation, telling stories, music and laughter are “different,” whereas lighting candles, singing hymns, reciting in unison and wearing robes would be normal in human everyday life.

It tickles me. I’m not offended by it—it just amuses me that we think God has a completely different way of looking at human life than we do. We act like we think God would prefer that humans pray instead of talk—right? I guess God likes it when we fast instead of eating. (Good luck with that one, heavenly Father.) God likes it quiet and somber instead of jubilant and a trifle unpredictable.

It sounds like an uncle I had who always found a way to put water on the fire, so everybody thought he was a stick in the mud. Is that who we think God is? Is it required that we file in once a week to appease a Creator who’s supposed to know all about us, but hasn’t figured out that we like to be courted with a bit of entertainment? Talk about being out of touch!

And the names we have for church always interest me greatly also. Sometimes it’s called a “worship service,” which, by the way, is not that different in texture and content from a “funeral service.” Then there are churches that have a “worship experience.” Certainly the addition of some guitars and overhead screens does change the intensity of the surroundings. Or does it? Isn’t worship really about the hearts of the people rather than the caliber of the equipment?

Some churches are “fellowships.” I kind of like that—as long as fellows are actually talking with other fellows and discovering about one another’s lives. In the Catholic Church they call it a mass. That’s kind of cool, because if for some reason the mass doesn’t go well—the candles don’t light or the communion bread is stale—you can call it a “mess.” Or if nobody enjoys it you can call it a “miss.”

On this Memorial Day I do become reflective, but if you’ll pardon me, it’s not to think about dead people. If the story really works out the way we say it does, those who have passed on are probably doing all right for themselves. Memorial Day, to me, is a time to consider what I’m doing, what I see being done around me and determining whether it’s fruitful, if it’s multiplying and if it’s replenishing the earth.

I think it’s a powerful thing. When I was at Alpine Lutheran Church yesterday, I really did feel the spirit of God was there, but I might just disagree with some folks about where I saw it come in. I have nothing against liturgy, form, hymns or any of the ornate decorations associated with the “religious experience.” As far as I’m concerned, whatever toots your horn—blow, baby, blow. As long as we realize that the Sabbath and church was not made for God. The Sabbath and church were made for man. That’s what Jesus said.

So as long as human beings are walking out of the encounter refreshed, renewed, challenged and appreciated, you did a good thing. If people are walking out the same way they came in except one hour sleepier, then there’s something wrong with the proceedings. Then it’s time to say “when.”

In this case, when are we going to wake up and do it better?

Published in: on May 30, 2011 at 1:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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