Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Unpredictable One

The Southern religious culture in which I was immersed growing up was filled with all night gospel sings, annual Homecoming events with old preachers and dinner on the ground, revivals or protracted meetings as they were called in some places which lasted from Sunday 'til Friday and only ended with the last sinner walking the aisle during the tenth verse of "Just As I Am," Sunday night worship services, and outdoor tent meetings during the hot summer months.
What took me down this memory lane trip was a brightly colored tent sitting on a vacant lot in a nearby town just down from IHOP. The sides of the tent were up and inside could be seen rows of folding chairs and a raised stage up front. Though there was at least one of these tent meetings every year in the town I knew as a teenager, I never went to see firsthand what happened inside. Respectable religious folks did not go, but looking back, I wish I had broken with tradition. Actually, most evenings the music and the preaching was broadcast across town by a public address system that was turned wide open. Sitting on the back steps was sorta like being on the back row.
Human nature causes us to shy away from religious experiences which are new and different. It is true whether we are looking at something as unusual as a tent meeting or as liturgical as imposing ashes on Ash Wednesday. It is a shame. God has a way of being at work in extraordinary ways when we embrace His unpredictable nature.

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