Siren Song

loud-musicThe Song:

At noon and 6pm, music pours forth from my church.  Bells, or electric facsimiles of them, send out five minutes of tunes into the neighborhood around us.  In a closet behind the sanctuary, a cassette is timed to play through outdoor speakers.

It sounds really nice.  We have a few different tapes we can play, even a tape of Christmas tunes to play in December.  I’ve threatened to look online for one that plays Beatles tunes.

The Siren:

Perched atop our building is an elaborate speaker, pointing in all four directions.  When this sound cranks up, people go into their basements.   I suppose the sound is grating, but it could save your life.

It seems to go off at least once every spring when dangerous clouds are swirling overhead. When I hear it, I feel an instant pang in my gut, a warning that all is not well.

What sort of vibe is your church putting out?

Is your church a gentle lullaby, coaxing people in, or is it a brash trumpet, alerting all to imminent danger? Does your church present itself as a sacntuary of rest and comfort, or as a watchtower blowing the whistle on the threats we face?

Which is the right one to be?

A prophetic, siren blaring church is uniquely suited for fighting injustice, for helping the marginalized.  Members of a Siren church write letters and go on marches.  They take risks and carry the banner of Jesus Christ into a broken world.

A song church that sends music out to all who can hear is sending an invitation of peace, gentleness, maybe healing.  Inside the walls of this church is a place of comfort, of creativity, of togetherness.  Members of a Song church invite others to praise God and acknowledge each other as made in the image of God.

There are, of course, many other types of churches, but still I wonder…which of these two would you be drawn to?  Is God’s Kingdom blessed by both?

In the spring, on the first Monday of the month, something interesting happens.  The siren fires up for its monthly test at the same time  that the bells begin to play.

Let me tell you, for a couple minutes there at noon, it’s quite a racket.

But to the discerning ear…

it sounds like harmony.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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5:23am

 

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I look at my watch.  5:23am.

The dog has to pee.  So I climb out of bed and stumble to the back door.  Instead of trying to coax him out like I usually do, I decide to go out with him.

I look up at the sky, still dark.  It takes a moment for my eyes to adjust.  I realize I’m looking up at the moon, and a star, overhead.  Probably a planet, I think.

And then I hear it.

Nothing.  Or just about. There’s the distant chirps of crickets.  The slight hum of wind in my ears.  But mostly, it’s the sound of silence.

No beeps or ringtones.  No traffic or dogs howling.  No distant laughter.

No arguments or small talk.  No spam.  No memes.  No Netflix.

No politics, no announcers, no commentary.  No soundbites.

It is unexpectedly wondrous, there at the beginning of a new day, to pause and reflect on a quiet world.  God’s creation, mostly muted.  I wonder if this is what it was like at 5:23am on the 6th day, before God made the noisy land animals.  Before God made us.

Most days, especially lately, the world is too loud for me.  Humanity makes too much noise.  Puts too many opinions out into the ether.  Falls into camps and dukes it out on the nightly news.  Most days, especially lately, I’m just weary of it all.

I look down at my dog, Tom Petty.  He’s ready to go back inside for another hour of sleep.  He seems unaffected by the vast quiet around him. He’ll be back to barking when the sun has risen.

As for me, I rediscover something I thought was gone from the world forever.  Silence.  It is the most precious moment of my week, so far.

In this Nothing, is Something.  Beneath it all, God is here, a divine finger pressed against God’s lips.  Shhhh.

I am reborn.  Recreated.

I look at my watch.

5:25.

Have a great week,

Mitch
shh____by_alyssaliana

 

CAN YOU HEAR CHRISTMAS NOW?

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This time of year, my ears start ringing.

No, it’s not just the salvation army bell ringer, or the bell choir at church.

It’s from all the noise of the season.

Music and parties and pageants and crowds.  So much noise.

I love it.  I love all of it.

But here we are, in the last few days before Christmas, and I wonder:

Underneath all of that, is there something we are unintentionally drowning out?

Something wondrous and awe-filled?

I think so.  And I don’t want to let Christmas come without experiencing it.

And so, here’s Mitch signing off early this week.  (Written words can be “noisy” too).

Instead, I invite you to take a few deep breaths, and read the following quote:

It comes from an ancient song that is based on the writing of the Prophet Habakkuk,

and it just may give you and I what we need to hear most of all.

Have a great week,

Mitch

 

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth
Our full homage to demand.

 

SPAM

Some People Are Mean.

Some Politicians Are Meddling.

Some Products Are Misleading.

No matter how you add it up, it’s all SPAM to me.

I get too much SPAM.

I’m not just talking about unwanted email messages. I’m talking about unwanted info. Too much input.

Junk mail in my mailbox. Pop-up ads on my computer. Pseudo-reality on the TV. Annoying posts on Facebook.

And don’t even get me started on Twitter.

Everywhere I turn I get another opinion, another blog, another political commentary. Everywhere I look I see another link to click, another coupon to redeem, another group to join.

Can you hear it? The babble? It seems like it’s everywhere these days. A constant cacophony of gossip and rhetoric and sarcastic remarks, all punctuated by cute pictures of kittens in roller-skates or somebody’s spectacular wedding disaster.

I think it’s getting louder! The you-know-what is getting deeper! The SPAM is taking over!

Sometimes I just want to yell

STOP!!!

Sometimes I pray for God to knock over this tower of babel and send us scurrying. But then I think…

A tower? With all this noise and confusion, how could any of us accomplish anything so grand? No, we have created a tower of SPAM, and something has to give.

Hmm. Maybe if I’m a little less vocal, and you’re a little less vocal, we’ll find some peace and quiet.

I don’t know. It seems like alone, we’ll never make it. It would take a miracle to calm this storm.

But God came in a still small voice.

And Jesus calmed the raging seas.

And the Spirit finds the quiet center.

So… Predict A Miracle.

Faith In Love Trumps Every Racket.

Have a good week,

Mitch