Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Innocent Chaos

It was, by all accounts, a mess of a Sunday.

I arrived an hour and a half before worship, and as I was doing my morning rounds to unlock doors and turn things on, I found the church utterly without heat. It was going to get pleasant later in the day, but the morning was cold, and so was the church. A quick trip to the boiler room and some futile twiddling of emergency override knobs yielded nothing. I put in an emergency call to our HVAC company...but there was no way they could get there before the service. Fiddle.

Right before the service began, our projector punked out. Which means no lyrics to praise songs, and no way to project the Keynote presentation that framed my message. Gah.

A small backup Dell portable projector was secured, but it didn't work quite as well. Nor did it want to be friendly to my MacBook Pro when I hooked it up. There's nothing like knowing you've got two minutes to resolve a hardware issue to focus the mind.

After worship, I encountered a member of my church and a member of our struggling Korean sister church talking in animated Korean over by our abandonware organ. Apparently, someone had hung a large painting from our unused high pulpit. No-one knew who was responsible for it. It was a bright melange of swirling simple shapes and colors on a decent sized canvas. I thought it was rather pleasant. The church folks seemed perturbed by it. Perhaps, one of them suggested, it might be...demonic. Sigh.

As the day wore down, and I prepared to run this month's food collection by the local food pantry, I encountered a young man wandering the church. When I asked him if I could help him, he said he'd like to "meet the owner." I told him I was the pastor, and we began to talk. He was a bit disheveled, but bright-eyed and smart as a tack. He was also clearly schizophrenic. I'm cool with that, as ministry with folks whose minds are wired waaay differently from the norm has been a major part of my life.

As I shared a little fellowship with C, he shared that the painting was his, and that Jehovah had told him to donate it to the church. Well, it wasn't a painting, said he. It was a spell. He had named the spell Innocent Chaos, and it represented the way in which everything is simultaneously distinct and yet interwoven and interconnected. "Things don't know they're working together, but they are," said C. He offered to help me carry our food donation to my car, and on the way we talked about art. He told me he thought all art requires us to make a leap of imagination, to open ourselves to seeing multiple meanings and other perspectives beyond our own preconceptions.

I told him that wasn't just an issue for appreciating art. It's the great problem most human beings have, our inability to see past ourselves and being able to view the world with another's eyes. "Yeah," said C. "Jehovah tells me that's the demon you're fighting with."

Not quite the way I'd have put it, but not really wrong, either.