During (1,200)

July 7th, 2011

There is a twenty-minute period when all the clothes have been changed, water drunk, fruit eaten, and a lovely quiet settles on the green room before a show. I wish you could experience it. It is absolutely terrific. Because we know that in a few moments we’ll be in front of a new group of people we’ve never met before, starting from scratch to try to explain why we’re here, what we’ve got to say and how that might be important to them in some small way. Usually the green room is far enough from the sanctuary that we also have no idea how many folks are showing up. The number of people who attend such an evening varies, with no consistency of data or circumstance.

It is a huge uncertainty. Now, most people avoid uncertainty like the plague, but the real plague to the human spirit is the belief that uncertainty can be prevented and we can actually create a bubble where we control all the variables and therefore determine the outcome. As you can imagine, this is quite foolish.

Anyway—back to my magical twenty minutes—it is in the midst of that sweet solitude that Jan and I decide what we want to share in the program, making a list of stories, songs and interludes. It is great fun because these jonathots afford me a tremendous library of material to pursue and ransack for blessing, to give to these pilgrims. We’re always successful at coming up with a program, and usually rather quickly and painlessly. Sometimes we joke that some of the blogs get lonely because they are ignored for a period of time in favor of the more recent entries or the old-timers that have proven to be effective. But eventually all the troops get to parade before the grandstand.

The humorous thing about the planned program is that it rarely is performed intact. One might wonder what the purpose is in making out such a list when you know that spontaneity is going to dredge up different units for presentation—because that’s exactly what happens. It’s almost like a dinner party. You may plan to offer a green bean casserole, but when you discover that the whole room has an aversion to green beans, it’s a good idea to switch the menu.

Audiences are unique—not in the sense that they don’t share a common humanity, but rather, in the way they approach strangers offering fresh concepts—and if you don’t get into their good graces in the first six or seven minutes, it can be a very long night. Also, the difference between performing and ministry is not in the quality of the work nor in the style of the presentation, but rather, in the willingness of the artist to adapt to what is needed in a moment’s time, in order to reach the hearts of those who come to hear. I will tell you quite bluntly that any minister who writes a sermon and doggedly preaches it to a congregation which is in need of a different anointing in the moment is just a vaudeville act, repeating the same shtick for the sake of fulfilling the billboard. Yes, there is a need to adjust so that you can make the holy attempt to edify all.

Then there are moments. I deeply believe in the movement of the spirit. I do not think it is mysterious or even supernatural, as is often presented by theologians and church-goers. I think God’s spirit moves when everybody in a room, in a single moment of time, feels the same thing. It is magical. It is what we all strive for in the pursuit of reaching other human beings.

Last night as I talked to the folks in Tallmadge about our great nation and how some meanness has slipped into the mixture, I could sense that they not only were aware of the same problem, but were distressed with the lack of solutions being offered by the leadership of both political parties. It was a tender breath of time—when everyone in the room knew that we had much more in common than in difference.

And what’s more, after all these years, I still like to sing. I’ve never considered myself a great singer and certainly I am not attractive enough to be the personification of either a Broadway or a rock star, but I do believe that in my own simple way, I bring some heart and soul to a song, even though most of the tunes I share with an audience are original—never heard by them before.

Yes, it is an interesting sensation, during those twenty minutes of sweet synchronicity in our green room, when Jan and I try to create a balanced program with just the right mingling of “Jesus, life and me.” Because candidly, “Jesus without me” is just religion. And “me without Jesus” is really self-indulgence. And “life without Jesus and me” is either over-explained or under-stated. The perfect compound uses all three of the elements provided—“Jesus, life and me.”

Last night was absolutely delightful. Even though some people showed up very early because the newspaper got the time wrong, no one complained. They just sat down and enjoyed the humans around them.

I never know how it’s going to turn out. You see, not knowing might frustrate some individuals, but it keeps me on my toes. I never know how many people are going to show up. I never know from one day to the next how much money I’ll have for this road budget. I never know exactly what I’m going to share with those who have decided to drive their cars to one of our events.

I love it—because when we’re too certain about what is supposed to happen, we are also easily disappointed. And disappointment is what makes us think that we deserve something better. That can lead to pride. And let us never forget—God resists the proud.

As beautiful as the “during” part is to our road experience, there is always what happens “after” . . .

Published in: on July 7, 2011 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://jonathots.wordpress.com/2011/07/07/during/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: