Sunday, April 16, 2006

Big Hill... Better than Disneyland

Years ago, we lived in a house that had 14 steps up to the front door. One Halloween a tiny little guy dressed as some in-vogue super-hero made the long climb up the stairs while my wife held the door open and waited for his magic words that would deliver candy. "Whew... Big hill" was what came out. Ever since, "Whew... Big hill" has become the code phrase in our home for "That was a long, hard day."

In my job, there are two times a year that are crazy-busy big hills. Christmas and Easter. Today ended the second of those for me. This past week was a grueling big hill that had most days starting at 4am and ending at about 11pm. By all rights, I should be feeling burnt out. My body and my brain are tired. But I feel a deep sense of gratification tonight.

This week, we ran a worship experience we call a Christ Centered Labyrinth. It is a multi-sensory, multi-media encounter with God that left most people only able to whisper "wow" as they left. We held a Good Friday service where we unashamedly grieved the death of Jesus, but not through "Easter eyes". People allowed the gravity and injustice of the crucifixion to wreck their evening and their weekend. At the end, the incense rose up through the gnarled cross hung in the center of the room and we moved through a "virtual" Stations of the Cross and the 7 last words of Jesus, many wept uncontrollably. Today, we celebrated that Jesus is no longer dead; that he didn't stay in the grave, but rose to secure life for all who would follow him. What a journey.

Last year I had a revelation... an epiphany. After hosting the labyrinth all day, I figured out what I love about this week. I'm a worship leader. And at its core, that has nothing to do with music - and everything to do with connecting people with God. That's what I get to do during Holy Week. Help connect people with God. What a privilege.

One woman came out of the labyrinth crying and struggling to find words to express her feelings. After a few minutes she said, "that was better than Disneyland." Yep, it is. Thanks to all who helped pull off this week. Thanks to all who came to experience it. Thanks God, for showing up. You're a lot better than Disneyland.


Anonymous said...

Hey Dean,
Thanks for all your work at VBC and in my life. You are a great man and friend. I really appreciate all you do.

Kim G. said...

Dean - great post. It was a big hill for you (and many others) but the view sounds like it was worth the climb! Thanks for your encouraging words this week as I wrestle with the idea of letting down my guard and letting the grief come for a visit once in awhile. I've been thinking a lot about why it is so hard for me to be "wrecked". After reading the post, I was reminded of one of the Willow Creek leadership tapes where Bill Hybles asks, "What can't you stand no more?" That too, was a hard question for me to answer this year.

Pass the Advil, these growing pains are killin' me! Take care!

Ben S said...

Dean - Just found your blog; love it...both the design and the writings. Hope that you hit the river (I personally think that is the definition of "top of the hill")... Just wanted you to know that I appreciate your principle-centered teaching. In other words, unlike many I read, I can take your posts and begin to translate them to my context in India. Because biblical principles apply anywhere, anytime. But I must say, I wonder what connecting with God really looks like over here? Even tho' it won't be a "disneyland" quote (which I loved), surely it will involve a sacred pause of reverence for the King of Kings.

Troy said...

It's amazingly refreshing to hear (or read) a musician say that worship at it's core is not about music. Thank you.

cate garcia said...

I came across your blog while googling for Stations of the Cross ideas. I am also a worship leader - for a small rural congregation who is in the midst of an awakening - and I would appreciate any help you might could give me in planning our very first multi-sensory stations walk coming up on this Good Friday. Please write to me with any suggestions at thanks so much, cate