This week, halfway through, had it all. I had the opportunity to fly to Los Angeles and visit Hillsong LA Church, enjoy true rest as I watched an entire series of an unredeemable show, and then flew to New York with MacKenzie for our special, one on one date.
And in this week, with these three markers, I got to experience the full range of sabbatical:
Reflections on Hillsong, LA: This is the 5th different church I have visited while on Sabbatical. And with each new church visit, I am finding more and more joy simply attending another worship service, a worship service that I know nobody and am not in charge. I have been proud of my lack of judgment or cynicism as I have joined other congregations, and in the case of Hillsong, movements in the unique work that God is doing in and through them.
Hillsong was an incredible service in an incredible venue. The church service was held in a really cool, historic club in downtown Los Angeles. No joke, every single person in the congregation, on the stage, leading the service and preaching were all under 30. This was one of five services and in no way, was this the “young person service.” Hillsong LA is indeed a young adult worship movement.
Whenever I would find some old man cynicism start to rise, I merely needed to reflect back a few years when I was all excited to experience worship that was less liturgical, willed with praise choruses and relevant preaching. I remember all the old timers complaining about this new form of worship as lacking theologically, a fad, etc. But the truth is that God was doing a new thing in my generation, and now my generation is becoming the old guys, and there is a new thing happening among young adults that I am taking notice of.
Here it is: This current crop of young adults is ruled by their emotions. (Truthfully, we all are, but they own it.). And for them, if their faith doesn’t impact them at the deepest parts of their being and they can’t celebrate, find joy, be moved, and compelled, then what is the point.
Reason alone, faith that demands a verdict might have been an excellent option for those ruled by the rational mind, but the church that rational people lifted up, didn’t prove to have much value to the broader culture. The rational church was just as full of racism, sexism, divorce, and has lost much of its cultural mojo. So, now a new brand is rising and the young adults are voting with their feet.
I am interested in wrestling with this idea more and more and the implications of what that means for me and for our church in our context. Me, being old and ruled by reason, bearly in touch with my emotions, and a church that is mostly middle-aged, and will continue to age unless we figure this out.
Binge Watching Netflix: Yup, what a waste. Although it was nice to be unproductive and spend some quality time in my pajamas. And truthfully, now that that is out of my system, I am going to spend this next week in my pajamas as well, but in front of a book or two. We will see what sort of change that will be, being stimulated intellectually rather than merely entertained. Pray for me. :)
New York with MacK: On this sabbatical, one of my goals was to spend some intentional time connecting with my family, and one of my ideas was to take each kid on a special trip of their choosing. MacKenzie chose New York. So this last weekend, we headed east and did all the sights.
It is incredible what one can see in such a short period of time. From the Statue of Liberty to a play on Broadway, we took the city by storm. I have never been to New York before, so it was fun to see all these places I have seen in TV and movies and the news for my whole life. I loved everything about it. And I loved exploring all of it with Mack.
As MacKenzie heads into adolescence, I am so glad to have gotten this time with her. To explore, play, eat, and shop together. To have no agenda, no “talk,” no problem to solve. Simply out of good will, and to build goodwill was the purpose of this trip, and that happened.
I am blown away at much MacKenzie is growing and changing as a person. She is not a little peanut. She is a lady with specific tastes and a worldview. And in the next moment, she is homesick wanting our blanket. Going back and forth between these two persons wasn’t as hard as I imagined.
My take away from our time together is that I need to do this more. It is not hard to make some time to take MacKenzie away for even an hour or two and have a little adventure. The second take away is what makes the first hard. This trip worked because I really had no agenda other than to just love her and do what she wanted to do. So often I cram down my agenda onto her, onto others, and the people I am with soon realize it wasn’t an adventure at all, but part of some plan.
So, here is to more purposeless adventures. Being present for no reason other than to enjoy those whom I am with. I am noticing a theme. Let’s see if another week will help me understand this lesson deeper.
Until next week!