I’ve never been to Austin, Texas before, but I hear one of their slogans is “Keep Austin Weird.” I assume this means, don’t let the presence of tourists take away the thing that attracted us in the first place—the cool music, the general acceptance of quirky unusual people, the fear that once something wonderful is discovered it will get all domesticated and made like every other place in the world. Colorful quickly fades to khaki and tie dye individuality becomes a blue oxford shirt. Not that there’s anything wrong with a good blue oxford shirt. I have a soft spot in my heart though for the quirky place, the place for the refugee from normal life, the place where 80 year old retirees and tattooed teens and businessmen and stay at home moms sort of hang out and accept each other, and have music and fellowship.
Church can look on the outside like the opposite of “weird.” People who are not in the church tend to think that the church is super-civilized and domesticated. A place where we all wear our best clothes and where we’re all on our best behavior. A quiet place. A calm place. Not at all a weird place.
However, when you look at the Savior, the one we purport to all be following, the one who brings us all to a building or to a livestream each Sunday morning, he looks a little like he might be from Austin, or Key West, or some other Certified Weird Location. And I don’t just mean the facial hair and the toga and the sandals. I mean the crazy way he tended to proclaim life in the midst of death. The way he ushered in a brand new weird way of thinking. In a world where the rich seemed to be the ones who owned everything, Jesus came and said, Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. The whole Kingdom. Weird. And the part about loving enemies and praying for those who persecute you. Weird.
And all the going places and healing people and upsetting religious and secular authorities..all the eating with tax collectors and sinners, all that feeding the hungry, all that hanging out with ne’er do wells. He was so weird and so threatening that they crucified him...and on Easter, proved singularly hard to keep in the grave.
That’s not just weird, that’s David Blaine weird.
Finally, he ascends into heaven, after being seen in the garden, on the road to Emmaus, in the breaking of the bread and then, just when they thought it was over, and they could get back to the business of whatever it was they were doing before Jesus said, “Follow me,” here comes the sound of the rush of a mighty wind. And it filled the place where they were sitting. And flames rested on them and they spoke in different languages....hardly church as usual.
Glen Mar is a “weird” name, and what we’re about is hope and healing and rooting people in the life-giving message of Jesus. We’re a place where we care for one another and everybody is welcome. We welcome sinners and saints and we are all some of each. We want to do more than worship and learn about Christ, we want to follow him.
That may seem strange to the world, but I say…when it comes to the strange, world-changing call to follow Christ, and sharing his radical love and service…Let’s “Keep Church Weird.”
See you in Church,