Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Category: church (page 1 of 3)

Sunday Sermon: Staging Life

It’s been a whirlwind of activity around here for the past month, getting the house ready to sell. I long for the good ol’ days when you simply put a sign in the front yard. Nowadays so much more is involved. (I blame HGTV for 98% of it. Can we all just acknowledge that we’re setting the standards a tad high?) We worked hard on the place, have a wonderful house to offer and found an excellent agent. We have reason to believe this will sell very, very quickly.

Let’s take a moment of appreciation and look at this beautiful piece of property.

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But that is not the point. No one really cares about the details of real estate transactions. Yet this is why you keep coming back to read my silly words, because  I find deeper meaning in real estate. It’s a gift. Ha!  A curse, really.

Folks in these parts are into staging their homes for selling purposes. Apparently this is not just a thing on TV, but it really happens. My realtor actually employs stagers to come into my already-nice home and make it even more inviting. They were here for less than 2 hours pushing couches around and stacking books. JJ and I sat down the night we took pictures and vowed to “stage” our next home when we moved in because it looks so gorgeous right now. With curtains!  And it’s clean! (Thanks again, Marj.) Forget “live like you were dying.” Decorate like you’re moving, I say. 

These ladies helped put on the finishing touches. I was a pretty easy case for them because the real work came a month before, when I invited my friend Abby over to lend her expertise. Ok, actually I may have frantically texted her when I had peeled all the wallpaper off our bathroom and had zero plan for what color to paint it. The next day she arrived, feeling under the weather, but with her color wheel and notebook.

We walked our entire house. Which rooms needed fresh paint. Which hardware needed replaced. For the love of heaven, Michele, go buy some curtains. She didn’t say it that way, but she should have. Take down these pieces, put up those. Art. Oh, the art. I need people in my life that love and find good art. Even Ikea “art”. I’m in total love with what we found for $40 and it’s so us.

Then, after the sweaty work was done*, she came back. Let’s hang these pieces here and those there. She brought boxes – boxes! – of her own stuff to hang on my naked walls. She didn’t haphazardly hang them based on the obnoxiously large screws already in the wall – she placed them because of things like lines, and where your eyes move about the room, and natural light.

Abby presented me a vision for my home. This is what it could be, Michele. She saw the beauty of what we already had and enhanced it with a few changes. Updates. While what we had was good, she gave us something better to consider.

Friends, this is how the prophetic Church could (and perhaps should?) operate. We don’t have to be a life-in-crisis place in the world. People might be quite content with their furniture arranged around the peripheral of the walls, but that’s because they never thought to turn the couch a different way. Perhaps people are content with their going-to-work, baseball-coaching, grocery-getting lives, but perhaps they’ve never thought to arrange their lives in such a way that those very same “couches” suddenly provide more beauty. A teacher once told me, it’s not what you do, it’s what you do with what you do.

May we become people who help others stage their lives, not just for the selling – at the point of crisis or major decision – but for the living. For the enjoyment of it, all of the days. May we help others invite beauty in to their homes and their lives. 

And may we also become people who seek that from others. I cannot imagine what my home would look like had I not asked for Abby’s color wheel (and then admitted that I actually just wanted her to pick out all the colors).  May we surround ourselves with people who live beautifully and share their wisdom. May we allow them into our homes and lives and give them freedom to make suggestions, not because they have it perfectly figured out but because they’re willing to try some rearranging with us.

 

 

 

*Tip of the hat to my father-in-law for the manual labor assistance

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Love in a garage sale group

My friends Kristy and Megan turned me toward the County Garage Sale trend at differing times, but now I regularly browse through the Facebook groups to see what’s offered that I need love. And, much like the rest of my life, it’s become a huge science experiment. Y’all, people are fascinating.

But now I’m sad.

First, there was this:

garage sale church.jpg

 

This one caught my eye first because it was about church and, on the whole, I seem to be about church. But the more I got to thinking about it, the more this post broke my heart.

Here was this person living through a difficult time. She decides that she needs to go to church to see if that won’t help – a noble and not always easy decision.

And she doesn’t know a single real-live person to ask where to go.

She asks a bunch of people who buy and sell junk together.

My friends, this is a problem.

It’s not a problem because the Garage Sale sites need to become our next marketing target – it’s a problem because the people going to the 109 churches of Miami County don’t know her personally, or not one of them has made it known to this woman that they do indeed attend and that she is welcome to join. Our circles don’t connect or even touch. The only place she can find someone who *might* go to church is on a garage sale site.

My science experiment moved forward a few weeks later:

garage sale need

Right there, among the Longaberger baskets, was a kind woman trying to help a family with children who had nothing. They needed food, clothes, toothpaste and all the very things we keep in stock because it’s on sale. And when looking for people to help contribute, the coordinator turned to: the garage sale site. Of course. Because people who sell crap are known among the world for helping the down and out. The church has no history there.

*Hangs head in shame.*

Finally, when my heart was already torn, a post stomped it into oblivion. It said, “are there any shelters in Troy for women and children?”

Until I joined a garage sale site, I didn’t realize how I surrounded myself with people who were just like me. I inadvertently thought we were all parents of toddlers who liked buying and eating local. I’ve realized I’m basically only around people who want to live into a better world and have the money to make decisions that will help them do it. We talk about our love for maxi skirts and disciplining kids and how hard it is to live your values. I wanted to believe we all have our “differences” but really, that comes down to meaningless stuff like if we were sprinkle-baptized or dunked, or maybe we choose to eat dairy-free instead of McDonalds.

Yesterday, along with these sites, revealed to me just how unlike Jesus I really am.

If all you do is love the loveable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

It’s not my lack of helping people unlike myself. It’s not even my good intention-paved road.  It’s my lack of knowing people unlike myself that keeps me from living the gospel.

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The people in the pew

I became a blubbering fool at my birth-church family this morning. Advent tends to do that to me. (Other people get weepy around Easter. Not me. I’m a sucker for the incarnational story.) However, I decided to take the leap and share my heart because I’m trying to live honestly and it was a story and a point that I wanted others to hear.

It was Christmas Program day for the children. All the shepherds draped in burlap and angles with tinsel halos waited patiently to sing their songs and forget their lines. It happens every year, the kiddos with their pagentry. But every year, it matters.

Back in the day, circa-1990, I participated in the pagents, too. You probably did, too, if you were a church kid of any level. They tend to pull out all the grandkids of regulars for these events. One particular year – I wish I was a journaler and had written the date – we did a pagent that was a modern day narrator (me) “reporting” on the events of Bethleham. I had a significant speaking part and if you know me, my penchant for thespianism is pretty evident. The world is my stage.

Following the pagent one of the women of my church, Barbara, told my mother that I was called into the ministry. She believed after my reciting of lines of a play, that God had things for me to do.

The Patron St. Barbara

She was right. (Truthfully, if she had said it about any of the kids in the pagent, she would still be right. God has work for all of us to do – I’m just very aware of mine.) Now, years later, I’ve been asked to recall my “testamony” and calling. Usually, after “I was raised in a nominally Christian but church-going home…” I move to this particular incident. If my walk with God were a path of stepping stones, those words from Barbara serve as a cornerstone event.

I shared with my birth-church family encouragement – to the volunteer of the children’s ministry that this work matters. And to parents who work so hard to simply get the kids there and dressed and a part of the church – it matters. We are building into young disciples simply by giving them time, attention, love and, every once in a while, a microphone.

This church is experiencing a phase of transition as their pastor of 10 years has decided to step away from the pulpit and they look to fill big shoes. They love their pastor, he has brought a new life and energy to the church(es – it’s a 2 point charge).

But the first person to ever tell me of God’s work in my life wasn’t a pastor. It was a little ol’ lady in the pew. She was a woman who did the work of the people, serving on committees, sharing with the congregations about the goings-on of the conference and the UMW. She loved God, her family and her church.

Every once in a while I have to question what in the world am I doing here? As in, on earth. Most of the time, I don’t really know. I make it up as I go or feel led. I once told my pastor that I’ve just been stupidly following God and ending up in the right places. But when I question everything, I remember that God has told more than just me that He has something for my future.

When you sit and look around and wonder who the most important people of the church really are, it’s not the pastor. It’s the faithful ones sitting in the pew. The ones who endure pastor changes, leadership shifts, and music wars. The ones who write checks and pray fervant prayers. The ones who hang the greens and press the clicker for the powerpoint presentation. The mom who creates a “time machine” out of tinfoil for the VBS and the old guy with the matches to make sure the acolytes can light the candles.

These people matter. They’ve mattered to my story in countless ways and I can still list them for you to prove it. The work they do matters because it’s how I’ve come to understand that God does want to partner with me in my life, that Emmanuel – God With US – is true, true, true. His presence in my life and the light that I attempt to shine is the result of the prayers, presence, gifts and service of the saints in the pews.

God can use anything to reach and speak to someone. Most often, he uses His people. Not just bigwig famous speakers and writers and preachers and pastors (though I do love those folk as well) but more so, the kind spirits sitting in the row behind you who offer to hold the baby as you take off your coat.

If you’re sitting in a pew, please know that you’re not just taking up space. You matter. Your presence matters. You are speaking the truth of God into young souls without knowing it.

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