New York City. Day Seven.
These are the day seven adventures of a group of clergy who went to NYC to uncover innovative ways to gather, worship, and live out faith in an ever changing world.
Sometimes it's hard to get to church.
Today we had a church picked out. We knew how long it would take to get there. We were on time. But we neglected to plan for a half-marathon in the city. So we tried to get an Uber but there was no way it was going to get to us with all of the road closures. So we went to plan b - and discovered they were online only. Next: plan c - and they were reservation only (and were booked). Plan D - started in 5 minutes and was 25 minutes away. Once we got to Plan E, we realized why some people never make it to church...sometimes it's just too hard.
We walked past the half-marathon and then took a tunnel under the street to get where we were going. We made it just before the choir processed in. Once we got seated we wondered why this church wasn't higher on our list. It was beautiful! The choir was phenomenal and the sermon was about how we needed to find new ways to reach people in a post-covid world. Look at God!
After the service we spoke with the pastor. He was intrigued by the mission of our group and our trip and wanted to continue the conversation over lunch the next day!
After worship we all went our separate ways in order to rest in ways that filled our souls.
I took a walk through Central Park and discovered the ice rink and a group having outdoor worship. From there I walked to the MOMA (Museum of Modern Art). I had heard a lot about it. I didn't think I was a fan of modern art but since it was so highly recommended I decided to give it a shot.
What I discovered is that I was wrong, I do like modern art. There were a few other insights too:
- "Modern" is a loose term. I never thought of Monet as "modern." But at the time the museum opened, he was.
- Modern is more diverse. I realized that most of the art museums I'd been to before were filled with white European artists' work in their permanent collections. A more diverse group of artists would only be available in special exhibitions.
- Art isn't just about beauty. It also about thinking in new ways. After wandering through each of the levels I began to ask myself: what makes something art? What is the story behind the boy in the painting? Why is such a large painting in such a small room? Why this color?
We gathered back together at the end of the day to watch our new friend Destan Owens in "The Life." It is fun to see a show in NYC but it is even more fun when you know someone who is in the show! The Life was a one week revival of a musical based on life in 1980s NYC. In brining the show back, the director said he as creating radical empathy:
"I had to ask myself, "Who is our audience?" They are very often progressive, rich, and white.They have empathy, but do they understand the infrastructure that creates pimps, prostitutes, and drug addicts? Probably not. But after seeing this show, the smart ones will understand that these characters are trying to get better, but they have nowhere to go. Hopefully that will crack open the space for the audience to have empathy for everybody around them."
Art, in painting or dramatic forms, opens the door for us to see things in new ways. This is why there is so much religious art...it is a way for people to see faith expressed in new ways. When we find new ways to connect communities and dream about what the kingdom of God looks like, we live into who God has called us to be.
Until Everyone Hears,
P.S. - In case you want to read from the beginning of our trip, you can read about it here.
P.P.S. - Genesis 2:2-3 (NIV)
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.