How do you solve a problem like Lady Gaga?

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I introduce to you…

Miss Stefani Germanotta.

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She recently sang a medley of Julie Andrews tunes from “The Sound Of Music” on Sunday’s Oscar telecast.

Look at that sweet smile.  Her voice was amazing.

They gave her a standing ovation.

I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of a person I’d love to have in my church.

Sweet, talented, full of energy.  Engaging.

Yes indeed.

However, this is also Miss Stefani Germanotta:

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Actually, you can’t see her in this picture.

She’s the one inside the egg, carried by her entourage.

Still want her in your church?

That’s the problem with Lady Gaga.  She’s a package deal.

This Lady may have a Julie Andrews side,

but she’s also got a “Gaga” side.

Really, I’m not exactly asking the “church” question about Lady Gaga.

I mean, the chances of her showing up at your church on Sunday morning are remote.  And, let’s face it, she can push just about anybody’s boundaries of good taste.  Case in point:

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(That’s a dress made out of meat, in case you were wondering.)

No, I’m asking the question about you, and me, and countless visitors to our churches.

Is there an expectation that we only reveal our “Julie Andrews” side at church, but hide away our “Gaga” side?

I think this happens all the time.

For a variety of reasons, people feel compelled to display the more “socially acceptable” parts of our lives when it comes to church, and hold back on anything outside the norm or weird.

Here are some slightly more tame examples of what I’m talking about:

  • The woman in her forties that teaches Sunday School and curses like a sailor around the house.
  • The couple in their twenties who greet at the door in their Sunday Best, but spend their Saturdays in costume at the Renaissance fair.
  • The nice young man who’s been hanging around for a few weeks, and wonders if anyone knows he tends bar out at the casino.
  • The youth group member who really seems to know her Bible, and plays really loud guitar in a punk band.
  • The sweet old woman who always says “hello”, and whose house could be featured on an episode of “hoarders”.

If we only love each other when we’re on our most proper behavior, then we’re only loving the part that’s easy.

Remember, Jesus loved people, meat suits and all.  (Well, I can’t quote a scripture for that, but I think he would.)  

He loved the whole person, not just the normalized parts.

Unless our churches can be places where people are free to be their full selves, without fear of ridicule, ostracization, or condemnation, we’ll be little more than public stages where we can just act like Christians.

It’s something to consider.

Now, I think Lady Gaga has a ways to go before she’s interested in joining any church.

But if she ever does, I hope she finds a church that loves her for the crazy, dramatic, talented, and weird person that she is.

I hope the same for you, too, weirdo. 🙂

Have a great week,

Mitch

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Magic Words

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I long to find the perfect words.

Words that will open every door.

Words that will make sense to folks on the left and the right of me.
Words that will keep a Church from the threat of schism.
Words that will bring the world to its senses.

“OPEN SESAME!”

(Nothing).

I wish God would put magic words into my mouth.

Isn’t that what the Holy Spirit is supposed to do?

Words that will bring people back to Love.
Words that will make things clear.
Words that will cut through every artificial barrier.

“PLEASE?”

(Nothing.)

. . .

I spend so much time trying to choose my words,
trying to search for the right thing to say,
trying to be eloquent,

And so little time trying to JUST BE.

Hmm.

Maybe I should try THESE words:

“SPEAK, FOR YOUR SERVANT IS LISTENING.”

(Welcome to Lent)

 

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Have a great week,

Mitch

Will we ever be free of evil?

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You’ll never get to read the devotion I just wrote about evil.

Because I erased it.

I called out Isis.

I lamented the 939 hate groups in the U.S.

And the 747,000 registered sex offenders.

I listed all the evil I could think of, and then thought of more.

I made such a convincing case for the prevalence of evil in this world, that my insides turned cold.

I seized up, recognizing that there is evil, too, in my own heart.

And I held all of that evil in the palm of one hand,

and in the other hand, I held the Lord’s prayer.

Remember, the prayer Jesus taught us to say?

Phrases like, “Deliver us from evil”

and “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done”

and then I stopped writing.

3 questions entered my mind, at that point:

1.  Are we humans powerless over evil?
2.  Will this world ever truly be free from evil?
3.  What is God waiting for?

And I had a moment of doubt.

* * *

But not anymore.

That devotion you’ll never read?  It was missing something entirely crucial in a devotion.

Namely:  DEVOTION!

Once I realized that, everything inside me changed.

My devotion to Christ points to all the ways I have been “delivered from evil”.
My devotion to God reveals the promise of God’s Kingdom come, and God’s will being done.
My devotion to the Holy Spirit helps me respond to God’s invitation to put Love into action.

Devotion is not just a heady spiritual response.

It is a lived, passionate response.

And so, here’s my mine:

I do not doubt the presence of evil in this world, but I am a child of God.
I am tapped into a power greater than any evil could ever touch.
And I testify to that power, and rejoice over it, and strive to wield it on behalf of the God of Love who is coming into this world.

There. Yes.

That’s much better.

Now, my writing for this week is concluded…

but my devotion continues on.

Have a great week,

 

Mitch

 

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