Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: my wife Anne and I keep rolling with the punches as the Coronavirus saga continues and we’re forced to adjusting our boundaries and personal thresholds in the face of what I call “the interim normal“. Among several changes I neglected to mention in Chapter 1 or Chapter 2 was that our church moved to online services effective March 15th. Once boasting a membership over 2000 at its peak, and located squarely within the very first Indiana town to confirm a positive COVID-19 diagnosis once those started happening here, our church knew they couldn’t procrastinate taking action. Thankfully the IT infrastructure needed for such an undertaking was already in place. They’ve been recording and sharing sermons online for years — an audio-only stream back in primitive times, now with value-added video today.
Pictured above: the main auditorium stage at our church home throughout the month of March.
It hasn’t been an easy, gracious month ’round these parts. Everywhere we turned, believers and non-believers alike were up in arms. Christians of all denominations, at all levels of faith, at various save points of their walkthroughs with Christ, have had plenty of questions, countless disagreements with others, even debates with each other. Anyone among us who never felt challenged or moved to sincere contemplation all month long wasn’t paying attention.
Easter Sunday is one of those too-rare moments when we collectively set aside our divisions, recognize why we do what we do, remember what our successes mean, realize what our failures don’t mean, and reaffirm why we ought to keep trying to do better.
We’re looking forward to service tomorrow morning. We welcome it. Right now, we need it.
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“So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” — 2 Thessalonians 2: 15-17 (NIV).
Confession time: when I launched MCC eleven months ago, I didn’t expect that aspect of my life to receive such short shrift here compared to the other parts of my life. Truth is, writing about my faith is challenging because the majority of examples set before me from other writers, family, and friends (in writing or in simple conversation) are either memorized Bible verses, Christian song lyrics, or common quotes that sound so much like real verses that everyone assumes they are and keeps passing them around. For the purpose of self-expression, I have a hard time settling for that.
Years before my life took a conscious turn toward a new spiritual direction, I was once an English major who had one critical writing lesson drummed repeatedly into my head : “Put it in your own words.” While the Bible contains a wealth of advice more useful to me than Bartlett’s Quotations or Twitter, I’m not sure what I’m accomplishing — either for the Kingdom or for myself — if all my writing and speaking consists of recycling the exact phrases and paragraphs of everyone who came before me. Becoming a living, walking re-blogger holds no appeal to me. I’m hardly the most original guy in the world, but I’d at least like to try to form my own sentences into useful structures. Problem is, all the best wisdom and aphorisms are taken, leaving me to cobble together what I can from my own odd experiences and pale talents in hopes that it doesn’t reek of copy/paste plagiarism. More often than not, my frustrated approach is if I can’t say something different, I don’t say anything at all.
I don’t recommend that mindset to anyone else. I’ll concede that’s me being stubborn. Arguably, I’ve set the bar too high for myself. We’ll see how my thoughts on the subject progress as I age and hopefully keep growing. Until then, here I am, doing the best I can with what I have. That usually means I end up focusing on my other specializations here, those that predate my faith, originated in my childhood, and are sometimes at odds with it. Thus is the conflict that fuels some of the fight scenes in the Midlife Crisis Crossover.