Beginner’s Mind

i-QK5Vx7L-1636x1152Tomorrow morning I’m going to slip a clerical robe over my shoulders and drape a green liturgical stole around my neck. I will line up behind the choir, along with the other pastors and liturgists, process up an impossibly long center aisle in a neo-Gothic sanctuary and take my assigned seat in the divided chancel. Later in worship I’ll climb a circular set of stairs into a pulpit as high as Rapunzel’s tower.

This is new for me.

And I love that.

I’m crazy about this new adventure because, for one thing, it’s grounding me in the reality that the gospel is true and transformative in every culture—including worship cultures. The heart of God beats in country churches and cathedrals, in darkened theaters and beachside pavilions. The Spirit of Christ is at home among hand-clappers and genuflectors; the Good News sings through guitar amps and organ pipes.

I also love this moment because it offers me a chance to experience again the childlike delight and curiosity of a beginner’s mind. Nothing blocks the spiritual path like the assumption that we already know, or that we have nothing more to learn. Yesterday one of the other pastors at our church kindly led me through the considerable choreography of a worship service at First Baptist Church of Washington DC. My awkwardness reminded me of the ballroom dance lessons Tim and I took years ago: “Step here…turn here…cross the floor and pause.” I imagine there’ll be some missteps tomorrow, but what fun it is to learn!

Mostly, by taking a chance on the unfamiliar, I’m invited again to rely on that which is most true—to rest in the essence of faith. I love the way Richard Rohr puts it: “God’s life of love is being lived within you, and you must simply learn how to say yes to that life. If you exist on a level where you can see how ‘everything belongs,’ you can trust the flow and trust the life.”

Good and gracious God, let me find you in all people and things…and be found by you in every moment. That is enough.

21 thoughts on “Beginner’s Mind

  1. Happy first Sunday! The climb to the pulpit is worth it. It’s looking down onto the row of young confirmands who sit on the second row directly below the pulpit that’s hard to get over. Are they engaged in worship? Are they afraid of a pastor that towers over them? Toss ’em a bone every now and then and all will be well!

  2. Ballroom dancing? Why, yes.! We have had ballroom dancing and wine tasting classes at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington D.C. What happens if you fail a class… have to take it again… tasting! I hope God is smiling……surely, Julie Pennington-Russell…..He is:):):):):)

  3. As former members of the flock Of CBC Waco we are eagerly anticipating following you into your new adventure as we remember to enter new areas with a “Beginner’s Mind”. We love you and continue in our prayers for you and Christ’s influence through you.

  4. I’m just bursting with excitement for you and for them. I’m also working on a trip in the near future to hear you preach in that beautiful sanctuary. Prayers for you tomorrow!!

  5. I’m so happy for you and for them. They are a most fortunate people.I will miss our ‘State Of the Heart’ talk each winter. God bless you Jules! Grace and peace.

  6. Be sure they explain the “bent” communion tray before you attempt to stack the trays in front of the congregation! Blessings as you begin..

  7. One of my favorite reads is Mark Batterson’s book “The CIrcle Maker”. If I read it right, your new place of ministry has been bathed in prayers through other sojourners serving within the city limits of D.C..

  8. Julie, may tomorrow be a wonderful day of celebration, followed by days, months and years of deep reflection, seeking, growing, worshipping and serving together.

  9. OK, so how was it, Julie? Did it require a nap afterwards? Your name was brought up in conversation to day as we had lunch with the pastor and her husband of the church we just joined here in Temple TX. (Only good things were said, of course!) Blessings on you and your family!

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