There’s a new Everything’s on the Table podcast episode. We continue our discussion on Beauty from last week. Enjoy! We’d love to hear you thoughts, questions, comments, and especially topic ideas.
Life shows up different for each person. Sometimes it is beautiful. And other times it’s not. Yet, regardless, there it is. What we make of it is what we make of it.
Sometimes life is orderly too. Like this…
And other times, life goes where it will. Yet, even then we can look close and find something.
Or many somethings.
Lesson for church: We can focus on what looks terrible within our walls, or even out in the community. Or we can look differently and see how God is a work, and get on board and participate. The Spirit empowers us to respond.
Longwood Gardens offers visitors the opportunity to not only see how so many plants and flowers come together to express beauty, but also gives visitors the opportunity to see how individual flowers are beautiful themselves.
Of course, one could argue that the reason we can even see the individual flower is because of the contrast between the individual and what is in the background.
And I think there is truth in that. Maybe the point is this – there is beauty in the individual, but I wonder if we see the individual because we also see the wider world too – and that wider world brings out the uniqueness and beauty that is present.
Lesson for church – imagine if we did this in church. No really imagine it. Now start to do it. See what happens.
The amazing thing about Longwood Gardens is the beauty – unique beauty that you just don’t see anywhere else.
As someone who is colorblind to a certain degree, I know I miss out on some of the beauty. But really, there is so much beauty and color, I don’t feel like I’m missing much – I’m getting the full effect.
And I see the detail.
And it all comes together so nicely.
Lesson for church: I think we do a disservice to ourselves and those we serve when we focus on the “non-profit” part of who we are. Here’s what I mean by this – “Non-profit” for many people means done with few to no resources and just getting by. That’s not what it is at all – that’s just crappy. The church can do things, do them well, and do them in an over abundance. You know, kind of like how we receive grace, mercy, love, and peace from God.
The next stop in the Cathedral of Learning was the Austrian room.
As you might expect from Austria, everything in the room was gorgeous. I’ve been to Salzburg, and let’s just say it’s one of my all time favorite cities. It’s elegant, it’s confident, and yet you don’t feel judged either.
Oh, and did I mention that Austrian culture is big on art too? The artwork was all over this room – enhancing the beauty.
Lesson for church: Beauty is a good thing. We don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. There is nothing wrong with using beautiful things in the service of worshiping God. The idea is to do things excellently. That’s not the same as perfection. Those are two different things. Excellence in church isn’t about being perfect. Excellence is about using the resources you have in the best way possible. It’s about utilizing the talents of the people in the church in the best way possible. It’s about even utilizing children in worship and in the larger life of the congregation as well in the best way possible. Pursuing excellence in church isn’t about the best and the brightest only being highlighted. It’s so much more than that. It’s expressing the beauty that is in our midst. And sometimes the most beautiful things in our churches are our children, as they squirm and make noise, our teens as they find their place in the world, our parents as they seek help with their families, our elderly as they seek healing, our visitors as they seek, our outcasts as they seek a place of welcome.
On one of our days in Iceland, we split up and took separate adventures. The girls and my wife went horseback riding and the boys and I decided to do a hike to a volcano. We used Reykjavik Hiking. Elva was our guide and is what you would expect from an Icelandic guide – extremely nice, knowledgeable about the area down to each plant we came across, and really made the tour fun. The best part was we were the only ones on the hike. It was well worth the time and money.
Elva drove us from the city to the beginning of the hike.
When you get outside of the city, you start to see the real Iceland. It’s gorgeous and barren at the same time.
Where we parked, there are nesting birds. They are protected by the rock formations.
And then we started to walk. And were we treated to some beautiful sights.
This is the beauty of Iceland.
There’s nothing like standing right in front of the Nymphenberg Palace. It’s incredibly beautiful.
But it’s beauty that is almost the exact opposite of nature, making it an unnatural beauty.
Nymphenberg if beautiful because of it’s completely controlled look and structure. Everything was put in it’s place by humanity for a specific reason. Things are symmetrical, and controlled. It’s beautiful to the eye.
Nature is beautiful because of it’s apparent chaotic nature – or at least it appears that way to our human eye. Yet in the chaos, there is structure – it’s just not something we could ever create. Things grow where they will, animals go where they will. Clouds come and go as the wind blows them. The rains come and go. The sun is seen or not. And the beauty that we see in nature is like a snowflake – no two moments in nature will ever be the same, for nature is always changing.