LA is full of hipster churches. Odds are if you live here that you attend one or have been to one. This morning Marji and I went to MOSAIC Church to experience their service. I’d heard it was very artistic and unique but wasn’t sure what that meant. So we arrived and walked into the space outside of the sanctuary to wait for the doors to open and I spend a little time just looking around the area…They had driftwood hanging from the ceiling with lights. They had pieces of old pipes mounted on the walls. When we walked into the sanctuary I felt my eyes spazzing out. They had black lights and music pumping through the speakers and for a few seconds I felt extremely disoriented and spacey. (Which is embarrassing because I’ve been to MCUSA Convention twice now, and Winterjam three times.) We found seats pretty easily and I looked over at Marji thinking, “I’m pretty sure we found the mother hipster church of hipster churches.” And maybe that’s a problem; that I labeled that church from the very start. I think it made me hesitant to open myself up to worship. I think it made me skeptical of their sincerity. They have a saxophone player in their worship band. All the sermons are available on iTunes as Podcasts. I was distracted. There was so much noise and so many lights.
But then. The sermon. And I found myself relaxing into Hank’s easy storytelling style of preaching. He used one verse from the Bible as the focus of the entire message. Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
He began by talking about strength and courage; how it is already inside of us. How the presence of God is like breathing and blinking. How the harder we run in life, the more breaths we take; the more oxygen we need and it is so with God. As we find ourselves struggling, or in difficult situations, we need more of God.
I have two stones on my dresser. They are carved and dyed in the shape of a heart. One says strength. The other says courage. I see them every morning while I get ready and every night before I sleep. I’ve been thinking about those two words a lot in the past few weeks because this is a city where you keep up or you are left behind. I have to remind myself daily that God has already given me strength and courage. God has already given me what I need to prosper and grow here. I just need to take more breaths, blink more times, absorb more of who God is and what He has for me. And that makes me excited, not afraid. Motivated, not discouraged. “The Lord God will be with you wherever you go.”
Really. There is no place in the world we are going to bring God to. He is already there. He has always been there. He is present in the Church, and on the streets, and even in the faces of the young Mormon boys who stopped to talk to me in the garden Friday night. Just knowing that gives me strength and courage. Imagine how that grows as we continuously breathe more of God in, and have our lungs expand with the fullness of His love and power.
Yeah. It’s pretty amazing. And so is Hollywood. And so are the homeless I have come to know this past week. 4 days of work so far. Only 4 days and I can promise you that if you look closely and if you want to see, you will see God in every single person on the street. You will see God in the man who is hoarsely screaming at the voices in his head; you will see God in the woman whose legs are infected and open wounds crawling with maggots. You will see God in the hand that many will stretch out to you to shake, for that simple gesture of dignity.
And you will breathe more of God in.
I’ll close with a sentiment from orientation at Stony Point that cycles through my mind daily:
“With every breath you take, you say the name of God. Yahweh. Breathe in. *Yah* Breathe out. *Weh* His name is in every single breath you take every day of your life.”