Today’s lesson in missional church comes from a parable told by that modern holy man, Saint James of Sesame. There was a fraggle named Red who had to find her song…
This old Fraggle Rock episode is all about Missional Church. The Minstrels come to Fraggle Rock because they wander the lonely caves looking for Fraggles. Their mission is to help each group of Fraggles sing a medley made up of individual songs. Each Fraggle has a song. Each Fraggle’s song is their heart center, the music of their soul. The Minstrel leader, Cantus says, if you don’t know your song, I can’t show it to you.” Each of us has to listen for our song. Then we have to sing it. Then we have to follow where it leads us. This is the essence of mission. Letting your spirit sing. Knowing the song in your heart. Knowing the song in your heart is knowing what makes you whole. It is knowing what saves you. This is where the work of mission begins.
Red Fraggle keeps looking everywhere except in herself for her song. She tries to steal the magic instrument of Cantus’ pipe thinking that all the songs are inside it, but they aren’t and she is disappointed and despondent. She is anxious. She wants to please. She is the Medley Leader. She must sing first. She must begin the Fraggle Medley and she doesn’t know who she is, so she can’t lead the choir. Only when pushed out of her comfort zone does she hear the song of her own heart and begin to sing. She needed the insistence of her spiritual director, Cantus to prod her along. “Every Fraggle has a song!” he almost shouts at her when she claims in exasperation that she doesn’t have a song.” And then shoved into a moment of stark clarity she hears it. She had a long way to go, though the journey was short.
Joseph Campbell called this process of finding one’s song and pursuing it “following your bliss.” Rafiki in the Lion King tells Simba he has forgotten who he is and this happens to most us. We once knew our song and we forget how it goes. Joe Gerstandt calls it “flying your freak flag” and he asks a really important question, a question Rafiki would like: Do you know who you are?
Friends, the community, the church – these covenant relationships – are people who know our song and can sing it back to us when we forget how it goes. What they can’t do is teach us our own song. We have to tell them what it is first.
My song is Grace. You can’t go on mission until you know what saves you. Grace saves me. Grace – that wonderful unasked for blessing, love and divine presence. Perhaps God is what makes love possible, perhaps God is what makes the creative process available, perhaps God is what makes new possibility possible. This is what makes me whole, what makes me okay even with all my stuff. What does it for you? When you find it, you can go on mission. When your heart sings you will know what to do.
What saves you is called soteriology, this must proceed missiology, or how you think of mission, and this must proceed how you think about church, which is called ecclesiology. So often, especially in UU congregations we do this backwards. We start with what church means to us, or we try to define church and then we realize we need a mission, and then, maybe, if it doesn’t offend our ideology or set off too many of our philosophical or theological allergies, we might discuss what saves us. If we can rescue the idea and the terminology from the narrow confines of 20th century American Christianty and accepting Jesus as your savior and being saved, we can talk again about salvation. What’s salvific enables mission.
The most inspiring and motivating religion and people we encounter start with what saves them. This is not about getting into Heaven at least not for everyone. It might be this for some Christians or Muslims or others, but for many, many people, all it is about is what makes their lives whole, complete and gives them meaning. What saves you? And, this is age old Universalist doctrine comes to our rescue in many a context – We are all saved. Already – we just have to find our song.
And when you do find your song, sing it. BUT don’t expect everyone to jump up and down. As Joe Gerstandt says, the people you will most attract once you start singing your song are other freaks. Freaks will dig you, and you will scare the living crap out of everyone else because being authentic, sad to say, is still outside of most people’s comfort zone.
Sing anyway. Sing if your voice cracks and shakes. We need your song. It’s awesome when groups of people sing together and start to imagine what their medley might sound like. Take a look at what’s happening at First Unitarian Church in Louisville, KY. Take a look at what’s happening at the Lucy Stone Cooperative and the UU Community Schools Campaign and The Welcome Table Community Center. All of these are mission driven.
There’s a brave new world of church out there, but you’ve got find your song to find it.