When I was in school some of my favorite times were spent in band and music. In jr high we lived in Shenandoah and the band there was AAA! Pride ran thick as we learned our various disciplines whether it involved music theory of sharps and flats, or stepping of exactly 22 1/2 inch steps keeping in sync with the other 118 members in the band. "GUIDE RIGHT" would be the common shout signaling for us to look to the right to make sure we were in line and in step with everyone else in the row. Routines, routine, routine was drilled into us and on Saturday our mettle would be tested as we competed with other bands. Back in those days of the late 60's we rarely took anything but first place home on those long fall saturday nights.
Routines: the stuff where we find stability and strength as they shape and form us via the habits we develop. But there are two sides to that coin, for if we just let the wind blow where it will without focus or intentional direction, we will find bad habits setting us into routines from always being late to and event or meeting... to waking up and thinking, "hmm, I haven't brushed my teeth in 3 weeks... to realizing our waywardness leaves us job hopping, as we can't seem to keep a steady one.
Well here I am almost two weeks into my renewal leave and of all the things I've left behind routine may be the one thing I miss the most (saving all the wonderful folk at Davis Street that is).
I'm out of my element here in Arizona, but I'm also out of my routine as well. Yesterday we found ourselves really out of our element as we at lunch at a small little "hole in the wall" mexican restaurant with a name so hispanic I couldn't even begin to pronounce it. The menu was written on the napkin holder. Here's what it looked like...
Like I said, "a hole in the wall." But it came highly recommended so we ventured out and immediately knew we "weren't in Kansas anymore." We were the foreigner. And here English was a 2nd language. I began to know what it would feel like to be an immigant in USA... legal or illegal.
We were seated and here was our menu...
Let me see.. ah.. hamburgers and fries in the bottom left corner would be my safe - plan B. But we didn't come here for their version of the American Embassy in Arizona - "McDonalds." No today was about stepping outside our comfort zone, outside our routine and daring order something new and different. So it was in that same spirit I orderd "Burros Birria".
In a few minutes they brought two squeeze bottles one with red stuff in it one with green stuff in it so I asked and the red bottle was REALLY spicy hot but the green bottle was guacamole. (OK!!!! something I recognized).
A few minutes later the brought our food.
It looked kinda like this. And about three bites into it (which was SO delicious) I began to wonder what it really was. A little research and ... oh boy was I surprised. It was goat meat!!! Good thing I tasted it before I knew what it was.
We all had a good laugh about it and overall I'd rate it an 8 on a scale from 1-10. Much better than Taco Bell or Taco Johns for sure.
As we left this Oz land we all compared notes and enjoyed our foreign experience. Wasn't like home and was very much out of routine for me. But the world hadn't come to an end either.
As Christians we are told in 1st Peter we are foreigners in a strange land... aliens... strangers... These adjectives take on a charged meaning today as we are not the welcoming country we once were who stood behind the verse found at the Gateway into the USA inscribed on the Statue of Liberty
Unfortuntately, these are fighting words for many these days. But as foreigners in a distant land perhaps it is the routine that threatens to lull us into a comfortable sleep, that dulls our senses and blinds us to the simple blessings in life, the common liberties we too often take for granted. After all isn't one of core elements of faith in Jesus is that Christ has freed us from all that would beset us and shackle us? "Free at last... Free at last... Thank God we are free at last"
Maybe today is a good day for us to step out of the routine of life, take a deep breath as we use all our senses...
SIGHT-to see new and different things as not dark and mysterious but as new adventures and avenues of learning that stretch and grow us.
SOUND- As we listen for the silence. (Notice the same letters are used in both to spell out new and different meanings) In the silence we might just hear the still small voice of God tasking us to new and different paths and music to dance to.
SMELLS- fight nose-blindness (that sense that you can't smell it anymore because you've been around it too much). In the new aromas around us lie the therapy of life that can freshen our senses and keenly focus our attentions to the elements that too often go unnoticed.
TASTE - and see that all things can become new as we broaden into other flavors of life.
TOUCH- Pehaps the most powerful of all senses for it is in the touch that we connect with others. In the touch of one heart to another Jesus' love take action as we reach out and touch someone.
We may not find ourselves in Kansas anymore but oh what excitement, what adventure, what will awaken in us as we follow.
Love, in Christ - your pastor, brother, and friend.