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Have you ever gone to a music concert? Often when artists provide concerts there are provided backstage passes to an exclusive few. It could be a contest winner, or some special circumstances that give the chance to “meet and greet the artist”. It is rare and special. To have that kind of access may be desired by many but most do not expect it. God is not like that!

When we go to a worship experience do we not all desire to have access to God? We look for access to persons, pastor, and God. We come with an expectation of a good, if not great experience of faith community and of God. There are two challenges to the worship participant in order to have the experience we hope for. 1. We need to search for it. The second is to be open and receptive.

We start with the presumption that as much as we want to find God, God is also wanting to find and make contact with us. We need anticipate, look and listen for the touch of the Holy Spirit in every aspect and experience. We need to be receptive to it in everything from the getting ready at home through the meal afterward. We want to find it on the way into the church, in every person we meet and throughout our church experience. We look for it in the opportunities announced, music, prayers, message, the people, and even the order of worship. We may find it in the weather or the views along the way to and from the church. Presume you will meet God and more likely than not you will experience “the presence” in more than one way.

Making the effort is not too hard and most often produces great results. The greater challenge which if not overcome actually interferes with the first efforts is receptivity and openness to God. What access do we provide to God? Are we wide open and ready for God to reach and speak to us or are our minds and hearts narrowed or even closed? Do we limit God’s access to our “backstage”? Imagine God is trying through every opportunity available to reach in and touch us to get close, and to build relationship with us. Sometimes I describe our openness to God with a metaphor of stargazing. We want to see the heavens, observe the stars, be filled with wonder, but instead of lying down with our eyes wide open we try to examine the stars through a straw. Indeed we will likely see a few, but that is not likely to fill us with awe, and there is a lot of grace we will miss. t is not the most effective. The more we narrow our vision, the less we see.

We need to be careful to not close our eyes, ears, hearts or minds which would limit God’s access to us. For example, if we sing a song we don’t like our judgment of the song may close our minds to how it was being used to bring God to us. If we have a difficult encounter with a person, we could close our hearts to others or turn inward away from community and experience. If we don’t like the message we may judge the whole worship experience by our dissatisfaction. We could come away from worship less than blessed. Not because God wasn’t present and reaching out but because we limited the access narrowing our receptivity leaving both us and God less than satisfied.

Great worship is a “shared” experience in which all participate; leaders, people and God all working together to create a moment of connection that changes lives and indeed our world.

I am concerned for our country. A few weeks ago we watched as congress, senate and president battled for control in economic policy, pushing us to the brink of default on our loans. We watched world markets teeter and tremble as our political posturing, ineffective and worthless, did far more than fail, it reduced trust and respect in the world. Why, because in our current state of politics image and statements are more important than well-being of the nation or responsibility in the world. Our “public servants” are acting like anything but. In the end they did not resolve the crisis, they deferred, they delayed; they saved the fight for another day perhaps hoping that it will somehow miraculously go away. It won’t.

Now the presidential campaign is gearing up and we see why the government could not solve the problem. They all have elections coming up. None want to appear weak. All want to be seen as pure standard bearers of ideals. So they stake out ground of extremes and refuse to compromise painting it as yielding and sacrificing. This posturing by the pols is raising poles that will interfere with any and all good progress for the good of the people. It reminds me of a movie I saw years ago wherein a general was portrayed as a man willing to destroy the world with nuclear weapons “in order to preserve the American way of life”. I guess what I would ask is “who cares if you win when all of us are thrown into economic crisis and world shame the likes of which has notbeen seen since the 1920’s and 30’s. It is not noble to be the last one standing. In this nation what is noble is standing up and helping all others to stand up as well. Did not our founding fathers say “Either we all hang together or we will surely hang separately”?

Now I do not fault the politicos for having different points of view. I think the differences and productive dialog between them is the best way to meet needs of all. The problem is not their differences, nor even the extremes of their points of view. What is wrong is their radical adherence to absolutes and refusal to respect or work with one another. In their posturing and widening of “no man’s land” between their philosophies using any talk of conciliation as signs of weakness they prevent progress. They erect barriers to well-being. They forget the central ideal around which the public has placed their trust and which is the hallmark of our national identity. In the beginning, the end and all the way through we are a nation built upon freedom, respect, and good for everyone, “One nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.”

Perhaps we need to remind our so-called leaders that their narrow views and self-proclaimed vision does not reflect the will of the people as much as they think it does. Perhaps we need to hold them more accountable, not by attack or complaint but by calling them together, calling for and protecting the middle ground, reminding them of the principles we expect of them and not allowing ourselves to slide down their poles of polarity into oblivion. True statesmen work together for something greater than themselves. And the good of the nation and the future for all of us is at stake. Please pols, put off the posture and put away the polarity. Think more of us. You may find in the end that such a change will raise you higher than you imagine and restore respect to our system, our nation and our people, returning to the place where we are admired, respected, and revered.