Thursday, December 29, 2005

eggs and church

John Frye has a post on eggs and church
Did you ever notice how people in churches seem to be like eggs in a carton? People come and sit in nice neat rows, not touching each other in the styrofoam environment of Christian individualism and "right to spiritual privacy." The eggs might be Methodist eggs or Presbyterian or Baptist eggs or those generic eggs in the independent, non-denominational churches. It is important to know the label on the carton. No one likes "a bad egg."

And one thing you must do (and I learned this from Julie) when buying eggs in a carton is open it and make sure no egg is broken. If they are all unbroken, carefully put them in the grocery cart and make your way to the cashier. Broken eggs are messy and a chore to clean up. Nice, neat, white shells (Oh, the safety of a shell), unbroken eggs---what a delight and pleasure.

Things are changing. Many people these days are bored into oblivion with tidy church. Many want a scrambled egg church, not an eggs-in-the-safe-carton church. One clear fact about scrambled eggs: brokenness is a priority. Brokenness is the genuine, deep-felt response to the cracked, cross-wired nature of our inner lives, our relationships, our society, the world, even nature itself. We must also release individualism: our sacred and guarded right to privacy. Where does one egg end and another begin in a plate of scrambled eggs? (Here my metaphor breaks down because I believe in the paradox of community, that is, within authentic Christian broken community, we discover the joyful distinctiveness of our individual lives.) We celebrate individuality, we shed individualism.

Sometimes the search for metaphors can cause things to be more scrambled up than withou the metaphor. The first part of the metaphor: "eggs-in-the-safe-carton church" - is descriptive of many churches. The second part of the metaphor: "scrambled egg church" - I don't think is all that helpful. John is right in identifying brokenness as vital, but I don't think that brokenness automatically means scrambled. I was out for breakfast last week with the two other guys in my accountability group. We all had (broken) eggs: Larry had his over hard, Scott had his scrambled, and mine were over easy. I wonder if this is the eseence of the metaphor - unbroken eggs are unpalatable - you can't eat them. But when they are broken you can have them in a variety of ways: scrambled, over easy, over hard, benedict, florentine, omlet.

In God's church, there is more than one way or expression of being the church - but until we are broken, we are only "eggs-in-the-safe-carton church."


michael lewis said...

What's this? I'm commenting BEFORE the RoG?

Mr. Bells, or should I say Reverend? Pastor? Egg-Beater?

How much time do you have? I have about 20 RSS feeds in my blog roll, and you easily eclipse all the others combined with the total number of individual posts each day.

I like my eggs over easy. Unless I'm eating them as part of a hungry person's breakfast, then I don't want the yolks all running all about the plate and contaminating the pancakes or french toast. If I'm cooking at home, I make omellettes. With cheese.

I also eat cheese when drinking wine.

Jesus not only turned water into wine, He likely drank it.

On Christmas Eve I was at an open house with about 15 + people and then some more people were going to come, but I confirmed with the host first. He said it was fine as long as no one got "out of hand with the drinking"--I couldn't even get out of hand with the drinking; there were only 2 bottles of wine for 20 people, and only little plastic cups!

Obviously, not even the Spirit of Jesus was attending that Christmas celebration...there wasn't enough wine to go around!

Scott said...

What about a Hard boiled egg? Would that be edible and yet not broken? Maybe not...

Anyway I like the analogy or at least parts of it. I definitely think the North American church is to much like a perfect carton. (at least on the outside anyway)

The Righteousness of God said...

Different perspective: Aren't eggs nothing more than aborted life? Never permitted to become what God created them to be?

I would like to see many chicks hatch out and be found under the protective brooding wing of Abba God .

pastor mike said...

Hard boiled eggs - we won't go there!!! Too many "hard as rock" christians

pastor mike said...

egg-beater Mike
I kind of like that. I have been accused of stirring things up. :-)

pastor mike said...

"Aren't eggs nothing more than aborted life? Never permitted to become what God created them to be?"
Interesting perspective - RoG has a tendency to see things differently.

The bottom line is... eggs as eggs is not the intent or the goal. Eggs are only useful when broken for eating or broken in order for new life to come. Eggs just sitting in a cartonn are just eggs.