LYLE: We have this weekly Sunday ritual at Terra Nova church. I know...most churches in our community do land on a collection of rituals that define who they are. Ours is: the pastors take out the trash when all the dust settles on the three weekend gathers that we do. I'm not sure who started this tradition, and for sure John and I are not the only ones participating. But we have become rather adept at tying up those black plastic bags and hustling outside the ones that seem to be uh...dripping. Sometime we drag them all the way to the dumpster, more often than not a member of our clean up team snatches them from us with that "you really need to let me do this" look in their eyes. And away they go, to the corrall at the corner of the parking lot at the Hub.
As we performed this ritual after this past weekend--Mug a Friend weekend, it seemed as though we had way more trash than normal. Now please know that we seek to be responsible with our trash: washing, re-using, and recycling things. But whoa--that dumpster was full at the end of the day. Which to me was another clear sign that something really cool happened here at Terra Nova over the weekend. You see where I'm going with this: some churches measure or "keep score" by the number of people who showed up or the number of dollars given in offering or the number of cards handed in. But the story--the real story--is in the dumpster! The more trash I see, the more I know that real life happened together at our gatherings. It meant kids were crafting, adults were hanging, there was drink and food and spills and accidents. All evidences that our friends came and enjoyed life with us. All in our effort to connect our friends to the friendship we have found with God.
Trash is the stuff we throw away, of course. People are not trash to God, but treasure. God has always had this thing about people! Out of all his creation, people are by far his chief concern. He loves people. He loved people enough to send His only Son to bring spiritual life to us.
He also loves it when we love people. And he loves it when we treat people as treasure and not trash.
I'm convinced this Relational Intelligence teaching series we've begun will help is to do that a whole lot better: to treasure people as we understand them more keenly and treat them well. There's value in discovering God's word on how we build wonderfully intelligent relationships. You can count on that wisdom from God, you can take it to the bank. Or even to the dumpster...