Here’s what I’ve discovered about the world and faith and the way things are: GOD loves surprises. Our scripture shows how much GOD loves surprises.
- From Abel offering a new thing
- to Jacob struggling for what wasn’t his
- and even a prodigal son, dead to the world, who returns home,
we learn that GOD doesn’t prefer the younger, just the spirit of youth, creativity, and the will to do something new.
GOD loves being surprised by you!
Our church, on the other hand, hates surprise. It prefers stability, hard work, and meeting expectations.
- It acts like Cain, committing atrocity rather than dare to create surprise.
- It models Esau’s expectant crowning, rather than Jacob’s ingenuity.
- It complains of GOD’s absence and abandonment when good things happen to other people.
It is as if we are the living dead, embodying the zombie church: a lifeless people diligently working away, drably obsessed with consuming the brains of the living. Tomorrow will be exactly like today. Today is exactly like yesterday. There can be no surprise.
The exact opposite of what GOD loves.
It seems like we have it all wrong.
Ruining the Surprise
When I was little, I discovered my parents’ hiding place — the place where they stashed our presents. It was usually their closet. I tried really hard not to look there; and usually succeeded in resisting.
One year, I didn’t. I discovered every birthday present my parents were planning to give me.
My parents were so excited at my birthday dinner; so happy to celebrate. The excitement was streaming out of them. I, on the other hand, had the world’s largest pit lodged in my stomach, where the food was supposed to be.
The presents came, one by one. A toy car. Legos. None a surprise and each an opportunity to come clean. Each time, I smiled, pretending to be happy.
It is my Dad who loves presents, actually. He’s the one who loves giving them as much, if not more than receiving them. When my Mom and I conspired to give up gift-giving for Christmas, it was my Dad who refused. He loves the surprise of it: the wonder and excitement; the joy and thanksgiving.
As a father, I’ve discovered that same love of surprise. Of watching the wonder and shock of new things come over my kids’ faces.
And I love every moment they surprise me. It is so much better than those rare times when they do what I want them to.
I’m here to help you surprise GOD.
Together we can make a world in which we share in our creative and honest gifts to GOD. We can work together to surprise and be surprised. And we can break free from that zombie faith in which things never change and never get better.
None of us can do it alone. I certainly can’t. I need your help.
Will you conspire with me? Will you dream with me? Will you help make the church a place where surprise and creativity is not only valued, but our great purpose?
Co-conspirators can expect new posts at least three days a week and a newsletter each Saturday. You can also expect a podcast by the end of the year.
I’ve got some ideas. Some of them may actually be good. But better than my ideas, are the way I make connections between very different ideas. I can connect the way things are to the way they could be. And I love making sense of those things that don’t seem to make sense.
Are you in?
Now that you know what you can expect, what do I expect from you? To check in and tell me what ways you are surprising GOD with your creativity and ingenuity. I want to hear what new things you want to offer. Because all of us need praise and hope.
And to be honest, those are the things I need. I am far too prone to go it alone: to think that I can just do this by myself. That my job is to do it “right”. Like the older brother. Or to get bored with the way things are and expect things to come as they always do. Like Esau. I need your help to fight zombies, not become one!
Let’s build a better church, a better faith, a better way of living. One full of creativity, hope, and surprise. For our work is not to make the same ol’ thing, but a new thing. A freakin’ awesome new thing.
Conspire to Create!
Drew is an Episcopal priest and blogger living in western Indiana who is obsessed with building up a vibrant and authentic church and 90’s era dreampop. He is the Rector of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Terre Haute, Indiana. While working on an MFA at Emerson College, Drew was called to a new ministry that transcends both decaying structures and 50’s era ugliness. This blog is about seeking an authentic faith that is expressive, worshipful, artistic, and transformative.
Starting out in Midland, MI attending Holy Family Episcopal Church, Drew attended seminary at Huron University College. He served as a seminarian intern at St. John’s in Saginaw, MI, curate at St. David’s in Lansing, MI, assistant rector at St. Paul’s in Newnan, GA, and Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in St. Clair, Michigan.