I ask a lot of questions. I hope some of that springs from a sense of wonder that I have for the world. I hope some of my questions come from a recognition that I don't know all of the answers. Of course, I sometimes ask questions for other reasons. I like asking questions when I am teaching in order to elicit the answers from the people I am with. I think teaching often happens best when more than one person is doing the talking.
You already know that when I ask questions of the children sitting around me during the Children's Sermon, all bets are off as to what they might say. There is no telling. Art Linkletter (and later Bill Cosby) had it right, "Kids say the darnedest things."
My most recent experience with an answer I did not see coming happened this week in our adult Bible Study, however. We've had great groups of people attend on Tuesday evenings and on Wednesday mornings. Our topic this week was worship. Worship appears as the W within the framework of Epworth's Missional Measures - the way we know we are succeeded in our purpose - GLOWS. The question I asked was simple: "What words come to mind when you think about the history of worship?" Buddy Dunn spoke up and said, Pagan.
I did not see that coming. I should have. It was brilliant.
Just like that, in an instant, his answer gave the feeble lesson I was embarking on a new level of depth I could not have imagined. In another way, he pointed all of us to the very target I had in my notes for us to arrive at an hour later. He did it with a word I did not see coming.
You had to be there to experience just how perfect a word it was. If I were to summarize it, I would say that recognizing the role that pagan worship has played, as the alternative to the Judeo-Christian worship outlined in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, really captures so much of what should be said on the topic. From the first offerings made by Cain and Abel, to the first altar built by Noah, to the "best theological conversation ever" about worship held between Jesus and a Samaritan woman at a well, our worship of the One True God runs counter to the pagan worship of the little gods of the world. We worship a true God who reigns above the silly, smaller gods that the world props up.
Buddy's answer out of nowhere is how God often works. Answers are delivered when we think we already know it all. Solutions are found in precisely the place we were not looking. The word given is nothing like what we expect, but soon our vision adjusts and it makes perfect sense. Which is why our worship - keeping our eyes open to the glory of God in our midst - cannot be limited to one hour, one place, or one morning. God is at work all around us. We gather weekly as the people of God to reconnect with these very truths.
May we have the faith to be ready for whatever next God-thing we don't see coming! Grace and peace, Scott