The Need For Magical (Spiritual) Experiences

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                 May 15, 2016


I recently wrote a blog post on “The New Sanctuaries: Fields, Courts, and Rinks”, in which I referred to the sites of athletic events as being now the primary focus of people’s worship on Sunday mornings- worshiping the games their kids are playing, that is!

As I thought about the craziness of kid’s sports now it made me go to the next question: Is there something that people are looking for at Sunday soccer fields and volleyball courts that they don’t think a church worship experience can give them?

What is missing in our worship sanctuaries that adults think they are finding at a soccer game between eight year old boys?

Let me begin to answer that by saying that there are a lot of questions inside the questions. It’s like the water hose in my backyard, which, although only one hose, seems to have the ability to inherit multiple tangles and knots.

The chaos of the situation is knotted into our sin nature. What is meant for good, for our enjoyment and delight, is quite often distorted by our natural ability to get our priorities screwed up. I say that to allow us to get our red flags out of storage and ready to be raised into the air. When anything or anyone becomes the dominant element of our lives besides God the likelihood of getting things messed up becomes assured.

There is something else going on here! There is the need for magical experiences, the reliving in more personal ways the NCAA Basketball tournament’s song “One Shining Moment.” Magical is the cultural term that masks the spiritual. What people are looking for is a spiritual experience, but we think we can some how receive it by watching our son win a race, or our daughter stroking a double down the line. It allows us to receive a short-lived sense of delight, a sigh of satisfaction. For many of us, our lives are simply a series of satisfied sighs jumbled together with tangled turmoil.

I’m a substitute teacher, but I’m not the real thing. I fill in, but the amount of learning that students receive on days I’m subbing does not come close to when the real teacher is there. The real teacher sees the whole school year, knows the direction, the needs and journey. In the same way the “God-need” that each one of us has gets substituted with other things. Short spurts of happiness become worshiped and craved instead of seeking the joy of the Lord. And we come to a point where we begin to believe that is what life is about!

Here’s the last thing to ponder! Wherever the elements of “privilege” and “pressure” are evident approach with caution. Wherever the elements of “grace” and “forgiveness” are present travel towards.

In another year or two my grandson will be old enough to tryout for a “traveling soccer team.” It will be communicated as a privilege…and there will be more demands attached to it. More expense, more time, and his family will be told that it needs to be a higher priority for their whole family. The flattery of being asked to be on the team will be anchored to more expectations. There will be the pressure to conform. Statements will begin with words like “If you expect…” and “If you want…”, and will end with the phrase “…your son must do these things.” Many parents will fall for the trap, not to emerge again for several years.

The elements of grace and forgiveness never pressure and never trumpet their privilege. They accept and are grounded in the love of God. As a result, they are often minimized in their importance. No goals get scored with grace, and forgiveness is lousy on defense. And yet, the path to the deeper “God-need” that each of us has travels directly through them.

This morning I’ll be in worship, connecting with my Lord who forgives and shows me grace. This afternoon I’ll referee two youth basketball games where forgiveness and grace will get stuffed into a ball bag and hidden behind a bench.

Explore posts in the same categories: Bible, children, Christianity, Community, Freedom, Grace, Grandchildren, Jesus, love, Parenting, Pastor, Story, Teamwork, The Church, Uncategorized, Youth

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