Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pentecostal Flavored Church

Had a conversation about religion and church and all that jazz and thought maybe I'd share here a piece from the latest book. 

Some of you will be sure I'm crazy when you read this.  Some of you will nod your heads and smile understandingly.  Some of you will remember your own church experiences. 

Whatever your view, whatever your traditions, whatever you believe - I hope this helps you understand how I see Pentecostal flavored church.

Taste and see the Lord is good!  Psalm 34:8


February 7, 2010
Pentecostal Flavored Church

I wonder…
How do they see all of this activity?
You know, outsiders.

Frayed edges flying freely
Called prayer,
Called worship,
Called church.
Pentecostal-flavored-church to be exact.

Do they see them
Neatly flowing together
Like prayer shawl fringes?
In harmony, Billowing, Following, Patterned?

Or fragmented, scattered, disjointed
Without plan or purpose.

Mostly I wonder
How do You see it?

All those waving hands
All those mixing voices
All those flowing tears
All that peace consuming
Fears falling, anger melting, sickness healing.

It seems to me
Casually, involvedly observing
From the inside out of this cacophony
That You hear every request and answer.

And the people who let down their guard
Put away their inhibitions
Shed their religiosity
They know, young and old, it is good
To be where You are.

But what of those who have lived long enough to
Reason You away?
Reason faith away?
Reason peace away?

Those who are not accustomed to feeling
Blatant emotion
Deep conviction
Pure joy.

What do they see here?
Who can explain such a mystery?  Which words would one use?
How can it be qualified, justified, simplified
This deep calling to deep?
This thing called
Pentecostal-flavored church.

Love is tangible in a place like this.

It’s a safe covering that starts in
The hands and eyes and arms.
From God to us.
From us to God.
Between each.

Friendly hands compassionately holding friends’ hands
Like babies -protectively and gently.
Trust beaming from every pore.

We sing earthly things don’t matter
And we mean it.
For a space of time
Moments, hours
All else falls away and the strength and grace of the
Community called church family
Envelops us.

That’s Pentecostal-flavored church.

To order a copy of A Book of Pages About Crossing Bridges or a Friend Named Jesus, please visit my website:  Writer's Pages

Facebook:  Author Kris A. Newman

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Another Stone Laid in the Path

I see myself standing there in the foyer.  Watching.  Taking mental pictures.  Immersed in the give and take of the laying of this stone.

A gentlemen says, “I can seat you now, if you like?”  He knows I am waiting for someone, but wants to take care of his responsibilities.

I smile and respond, “I’m fine.  I’m ok to wait here.”  I try to reassure him and add, “Besides, I’m writing.  Can’t you see the words?”

He smiles in complicity, “Yes, I do.”

And I believe he may.  He is, after all, a reader and understands the importance words play.

I’m back to watching the scene before me.  They say there are six degrees of separation between us all.  If we could extend our lives six people out, we are all connected.  Watching the picture before me, I realize there are far less than six degrees separating all of these lives.  We are a Kandinsky of colors swirling and mixing from north to south, east to west.  A portrait carefully painted by a Master artist.

Aptly, a song rises above the crowd.  Over and again the chorus is repeated, “How are you?  You look beautiful!  I am so glad you’re here.”  Melodies of friendship crescendo as the choir moves slowly into the sanctuary.

I find my particular friends and move inside to wait the perfect moments, the perfect music, the perfect promises.  Together and alone we watch the drama play.  We can’t help but compare this day with other days we have witnessed.  The lace, the flowers, the signed license and kiss for luck. 

Sometimes, like this one, the day is enveloped with laughter.  The kind that makes your sides hurt, your voice hoarse, tears running down your face.  It’s with this laughter we tie our hearts together.  It’s an unspoken promise that should our paths cross elsewhere, we will find a friendly smile, a genuine handshake, a place to rest from the cares of life.  It uplifts us, this laughter, and carries us over the hard days.

I watch the mother of the groom from across the way and see my own happy sadness in her eyes.  I understand the joy she feels of sons grown and the sadness of an empty nest.  The guards are slowly changing in our lives.  We are leaders, it’s true, but ever so tenaciously we hand off the baton to them.  They are the next generation and we trust them with the Good News that changes lives. 

They are beautiful, these grown children.  The platform is decorated with their joy and empty picture frames.  This new family will fill the frames with the story of their life.  To either side of the bride and groom are their closest friends.  Those whose hands have held them up, carried them, and implicitly join these two paths.  The weaving of these many lives has not just begun. They are a strong fabric which has been tested and found to be true.

We measure the days of our lives with these events.  Having the same faces to share the mile-markers gives us identity, purpose, family.  We joke the next event will be a baby shower. 

We don’t share only the ceremony, this band of mothers, but the set-up and clean-up, too.  Not only of the event – but of the lives celebrated by the event.  We are those who will be cheering these children’s successes.  We are those who will stand beside them when they struggle.  We are those who pray and love and hurt with these children.  And with each other. 

This wedding is a perfect day.  The sun shines, the music shines, the brilliance of their pure love shines.  We send them off in a shower of lavender, waving them on to their future.

I see myself again, standing among the crowd.  I am holding the hand of a child whose mother I have prayed with many times while she was yet finding her place.  Over the many years, our paths crossed hither and yon, an example of foundational acceptance.  The child understands this and walks this space with me, also, making my heart smile.

Looking at the portrait the crowd makes behind the newlyweds, I see more than swaying hands.  Each life its own brush stroke.  Survivors, overcomers, those who refused to let the dips of sorrow steal their zest.  I am aware that I am made stronger, gentler by standing in this crowd.  

Together we pave a path for those who follow.  

To order a copy of A Book of Pages About Crossing Bridges or a Friend Named Jesus, please visit my website:  Writer's Pages

Facebook:  Author Kris A. Newman

Friday, August 17, 2012

Still Singing

 It’s been awhile since I wrote the post below.  It gets a lot of hits, so it must strike a chord.  Although, honestly, it might be the very cool metal piece photo I have attached to it.  I have learned as a writer that my words are polished when I can find just the right photo to add.

Since I used this week’s personally picked public writing time to draft a spot for 5iveforwomen.com, I thought I would re-post a favorite so you don’t think I’ve forgotten you.

Thanks for sharing this journey with me.  Life is much better lived when co-conspirators keep pace beside you.


 Music Sings the Colors of Life 

Originally posted September 10, 2010

Music plays a big part in my world.

I was listening to music practice one afternoon and feeling the keyboard notes run along my arms and it occurred to me that music, like writing, is intrinsic to my identity.

I could describe people to you by the kinds of music they like. John is a little edgy, a little country. Melissa is sometimes romantic, but with a strong streak. Tina is rock ‘n roll laced with a healthy respect for blues. Bob? Full of mystery and depth behind blue eyes. Thi might come across as traditional, but once he opens the door you find a wide assortment of sound and intellect.

I’m an eclectic mix that begins with a colorful clash of poetry and sound and ends with fun mixes.

I’ll let you guess which bands apply.

I like Christian music, mostly, but I get bored with the repetitious redundancy of much of it. I find it interesting that people criticize my wide taste in music. Really? You think my musical taste is questionable, don’t even ask me about what I read.

I also find it interesting that they don’t want to take up the discussion about why I like what I like and how I think God sees it. They only want to tell me how they think God sees it. Hmm. In the words of my oh-so-wise Grandma, “who died and made you boss?” I wonder if they would object to a classical composer if they knew of his personal choices and misadventures. I don’t meant to be critical, but it sure sticks in my craw sometimes.

Back to music.

Music speaks to me. Not only the lyrics, the very sound of certain melodies will stick with me for days. I can hear their strains calling me to move for days, sometimes years. There seems to be a song for every event. I am forever singing something random because music is forever filling my mind.

I find myself drawn to music, like all art forms, which has a deeper meaning, something that goes well beyond the surface. I have to like the surface, too, though. A wild cacophony of sound has no purpose. Distorted, unintelligible lyrics are foolishness to me. Shallow, common rhythms bore me. Loud, I like. Soft, I enjoy.

I’m not a musician, but I sure do dig music.

To order a copy of A Book of Pages About Crossing Bridges or a Friend Named Jesus, please visit my website:  Writer's Pages

Facebook:  Author Kris A. Newman