Learning to expect the unexpected
Last month’s Smithsonian magazine told the story behind the iconic picture of J.P. Morgan. It is a picture where Morgan is sitting slightly tilted, looking directly at the camera with eyes narrowed and brow furrowed.
It is a photograph that reveals the steel in the man who at the turn of the 20th century was the unquestioned baron of Wall Street and arguably the most powerful person on earth. The United States Federal Reserve was established the year J.P. Morgan died. That’s because until his death, J.P. Morgan was the Federal Reserve for the country, who single-handedly stopped the country from falling into recession and depression in 1907. Ah, now those were the good old days.
That picture of Morgan, taken when he was 65, was made by a 23-year-old photographer named Edward Steichen. He was given two minutes to photograph his subject because that’s all the time the great man had to spare. The first photo of Morgan was in an accustomed pose, then Steichen told Morgan to move.
Little did this 23-year-old know, that at that time, no one told J.P. Morgan to do anything - ever. Morgan was annoyed by the request and shifted in his chair looking intently at Steichen. At that precise moment a picture was taken that has framed our understanding of Morgan ever since.
Steichen said he learned something that day. To reveal your subject you must surprise them, even catch them off guard, for that is where true character is found.
And if it is true of photographs how much more of worship. We may sometimes misunderstand what it is that we do when we worship. Oh sure, there is no more comfortable room in the world than that place when we can go and pray and sing praises to God. That is why we call it a sanctuary after all. However that is not all that worship is. It is a place where we also ask God to know us, speak to us, and therefore surprise us.
If worship is only boring to you it will also quite likely be impenetrable to an encounter with God. Same old, same old, must not do. Worship ought to challenge us and lead us to areas of service and devotion that we would never have encountered had we not listened to that “still small voice” that can only come from God.
So Sunday when you arrive, also be ready, expectant, and if you are made to feel a little uncomfortable perhaps God is telling you that there is even more you can do with your life.
You never know what might happen.
Greg Porterfield is senior pastor of Wesley UMC in Evans. You can e-mail him at: Greg@Wesleyumc.net