To One Another

Probably unsurprisingly to most, I am a big fan of children’s television. Some of it I can’t stand, but there are other shows that I legitimately enjoy. One of them I found while scanning the channels the night before a college interview. Another is one that I started watching when I was actually a child. I don’t watch it regularly on TV anymore, but I remember it well. At some point that I can’t recall, my parents purchased a video (VHS!) with the highlights of the songs featuring two characters and I still sing those songs regularly.

There’s one song that a character sings as he’s getting into bed, so it makes sense that it’s very lullabyish and calming. Every now and then, I look it up on YouTube and listen to it right before bed to calm me down or to help my brain stop running through to-do lists from the day prior and the one to come. Typically, however, when I type in the search box for the song, I write the song title and the name of the show. I was already a bit tired on this occasion, and was lying on my side, so I decided to just type the name of the song with one hand instead. This shouldn’t have been unexpected, but this changed my search results. The video/song I was looking for came up, but something else joined it.

It was a video of one of my favorite actors singing the song, and doing so in such a raw and beautiful way that I was quite moved. I was recounting this story to one of my friends, who questioned whether a cover of a song from a children’s show could really be considered “raw,” but I think the issue resided in the fact that I had forgotten that other people loved this song as much as I did. I hadn’t really considered that other people might snuggle up and sing it quietly sometimes. So when somebody else took it and sang it just as quietly (this is not at all the first thing that shows up in a search for this actor’s songs), it had some effect.

I think this is a little bit of what good fellowship does. It is, in part, when another person takes something that is precious to you both and makes it more beautiful and meaningful for both of you. Specifically in terms of Christian fellowship, I have been so encouraged by watching people I know and strangers alike take this incredible faith and put it into action, or discover deeper meaning in the word of God and share it. It makes me want to strive more towards the goal of being like Christ, too!

I also find that this ought to be a two-way street, and that if one way is working, the other way sometimes starts working as a result. Because of how encouraged I have been by others, I feel all the more inspired to uplift them in the same way. That is one function of this blog, as Parakaleo means “to call out to one another” or “to encourage,” but we’re in real trouble if I think I only need to contribute to Christian community every other week on a steady basis. It seems that the best fellowship stems from the spontaneity of being encouraged both when you least expect it and when you most need it.

So even though we may be appalled by a horrific remix of a treasured song on occasion, let’s keep in mind that we are made for those times when an artist’s interpretation of the music or lyrics betters our own. Or in the terms used in Hebrews 10, “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

I like how this passage puts a good deal of responsibility on us. It talks about a number of things that Jesus has done- cleansing us, giving us confidence, being our “great priest,” and being faithful, but it gives us things to do as well. We need to hold consider how to “stir up one another to love and good works,” and then actually do that to an increasing degree. (Side note: This is why I love rereading Bible passages. I have read over this who knows how many times, and I think this is the first where I’ve really noticed the three calls to action- maybe more if you consider the breakdown of “considering” and “doing”- in this one sentence.)

I’m praying that God will open my heart and mind to do just that and be a blessing to His people, and everyone around me, as we work towards godliness and sharing His love together.

Five, six, seven, eight!

One of my favorite things to do is dance. The closest thing to a dance class that I’ve ever taken was a dance theory class, where we learned about movement and the history of dance, primarily. That was amazing, but we weren’t really learning technique. Despite this, I love to watch people dance and I love to learn dances. Most of the time, “learning” dances consists of me, YouTube or a movie, and lots of rewinding. Without meaning to, I’ve developed a bit of a routine of teaching myself some choreography every few months. When I was debating whether or not to learn my most recent dance, a very cool, maybe 30-second dance break from a popular song, I had a moment of panic when I thought I hadn’t learned a dance in a while- was I even able to do that anymore?! Then I recalled that I had learned one just a few months ago.

I’ve come to realize that this love has some interesting parallels to my faith. As much as I would love to sit in on a seminary class or learn Greek or Hebrew, I’ve never really done those things. I do “eavesdrop” and pick up little things from sermons or books and cling to them, much as I did the little bit of dance that I got in my theory class.  People have asked me whether or not I’m a dancer (typically after observing my failure to stay still when music is on), so it’s something that they can tell that I’m passionate about. I pray that the same thing is true of my faith. But there are humbling similarities, as well. Even though I know enough to teach a barn full of people Hannah Montana’s Hoedown Throwdown, I am in absolutely no position to orchestrate “The Nutcracker,” for instance. Looking at the level of difference between my non-professional dancer self and people with that level of talent is very humbling, and were dance the primary focus of my life, would likely be very inspiring to work to reach that level of skill.

The true primary focus of my life, though I may not always live as though this is true, is my faith, and these parallels make me wonder if I am striving towards it the way that I am called and designed to do. I wonder if God looks at my broken attempts at righteousness the same way that the veterans that I admire on stage would observe my poor performance of the Seize the Day (Reprise) dance from Newsies. The good news is that God doesn’t just look at the mess of a show and let me know that it was horrible. He does let me know where I’ve messed up, but He also gives me moments of joy and encouragement, and shapes me towards being as perfect as He is. Oh, how far there is to go!

I think it’s important to consider the manifestation of a passion for something at turning points like a new year, or the beginning of a new semester or new job. How in this new situation am I going to keep practicing and getting better? If I was still running around showing people some dance I taught myself in 2007 and trying to convince them that I love learning new choreography, my words might seem insincere. You hadn’t even started college then, someone might point out. How did that affect your interests? Another might note that I learned the better part of that dance from a tutorial. Do you care enough to learn something even if someone isn’t spoon-feeding you every step, but rather you have to seek out the information yourself and very carefully observe?

One of my favorite verses talks about “press[ing] onward to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Aside from the continuity of moving forward, “pressing onward” can look very different at different times in my life. I was encouraged by these guidelines from Psalm 37: 3-6:

Trust in the Lord, and do good;

dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.

Delight yourself in the Lord,

and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;

trust in him, and he will act.

He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,

and your justice as the noonday.

I’m excited to see this whole beautiful but broken dance of life come together and I’m praying that God will bless our efforts to learn and grow and that He will continue to fuel our passion for Him even through the trials of pressing onward.

 

p.s. What are you passionate about? How do you strive towards it?