In my previous posts I have failed to mention what we heard as we entered the convention center. We were greeted each of the first two days by a two man band, the O'Chancey Band. The band members consisted of a drummer and a guy playing music on a keyboard but it sounded more like a heavy metal band with a full stage of rockers. Although I'm not typically a fan of rock metal music, these guys were fun to listen to and to watch. Maybe it was the environment or maybe I'm starting to be understanding of others' gifts for glorifying God.
Coming to the stage next was the band Lost and Found. Read more about Lost and Found here. They were followed by Scott Young who again led the group in praise songs. I can't stress enough how moved I was to sing with so many other people. Again I found myself just listening at times instead of singing along because this was my first experience with a group so large singing praises to God. During many of the songs people had added their own clapping, chants, and movements which everyone else besides me in the large convention center seemed to know. I'm a quick learner so I picked up on them easily and I was once again reminded that I had never known the joy that comes with learning these subtle additions to the songs. I felt like the kid who never attended a church summer camp where I'm sure most of these songs were learned. Better late than never!
The evening's message was delivered by David Skidmore, a Youth a Family Minister. He had what I would call an object lesson. One audience member was called up on stage to help David work a puzzle. The puzzle had about 40 pieces (if I remember correctly). David made the connection between a puzzle and our Christianity. It was easy to put the pieces together when they were all turned facing up, a picture of the completed puzzle was on the box, and someone was there to help when needed. Then he turned all of the pieces over and asked the boy if he could still work the puzzle. With the 40 pieces turned over it was still pretty easy to solve. Even when the picture was taken away and help was not there the puzzle was still fairly simple.
Then he brought out the big guns. He had a puzzle with 1,000 pieces and asked the boy the same questions. Could you complete this puzzle with the pieces turned facing up? With a picture? And with assistance? Of course, the boy said that he could. David then started turning the pieces facing down! The same questions again were asked. The boy said that he could complete the puzzle but it would be much more difficult.
And then all heck broke loose. David opened another puzzle with 1,000 pieces and dumped it right on the pile of the other 1,000 piece puzzle. All of us with OCD had to take a deep breath and realize that this was only a demonstration. He wasn't really going to ask the boy the same questions, right? But he did. The boy was slightly perplexed but said that he could probably complete both puzzles individually if he was given a picture of the puzzles and some guidance from someone who had experience completing the puzzles.
Once again, David started turning all of the pieces over and asked the same questions. At this point, I assume most people would agree that the puzzles would be virtually impossible to assemble with all the pieces facing down, no picture to reference, and no one to help guide him. But as the camera zoomed in to the puzzle pieces we were able to see that some of the pieces had small dots on them. David asked again, now that you can separate the pieces into two piles, one with dots and one without, could the boy complete the puzzles with help. The boy wasn't sure but he knew that it would be easier than if the puzzle pieces had no dots.
David's connection between the puzzles and Christianity was that we all need to be connected to the church in the same way we need to see the puzzle pieces facing up, a reference picture, and someone to guide us along the way. As life comes at us in all directions our puzzle pieces get turned over, our reference pictures are taken away, and we no longer have someone to guide us.
Some people think they can be Christians simply by being good people. They claim to be spiritual but don't need religion. They profess to have a deep connection to God without needing a deep connection to a church. He made the case, and I believe it as well, that all Christians not only need but must have a connection to church. Christians ARE the church. It's not some building we go to on Sunday mornings. We must be connected to other Christians and together we make up the church.
Think about the puzzle analogy and it's meaning. The puzzle pieces represent our daily struggles, the reference picture is the Bible, and our guides are other church members and Christians. When everything we need is right in front of us it's easy to assemble the puzzle. Even when some of the pieces are turned over, the picture is taken away, and our guide is gone, we can still work through the struggles and complete the task at hand. But what happens when we have a puzzle with 1,000 pieces? Where do we turn when the picture is gone? And who do we lean on for support when we don't have someone to help us? We have to take those puzzle pieces called life, go to our Bibles for reference, and lean on our brothers and sisters.
Come back tomorrow for my final installment of this 4-part blog series about my experiences at Winterfest 2014.