My mom and I turned on the Super Bowl to glimpse the halftime performance by Lady Gaga, and I voiced my opinion in three, condescending letters:
I did not like the silver leotard. I did not like the dancing. I did not like the over-stimulation of the lights. I did not like the song, "Born This Way." I offered my mom all the "reasons" I had to dislike Gaga.
My mom remained silent --a good sign that I needed to hush.
Eventually, I climbed halfway down off of my high horse and un-muted the TV to listen to the one song by Gaga that I do like: "A Million Reasons." Only then did my mom speak.
"She is a really pretty woman."
We continued to watch and listen in silence. Then my mom spoke again.
"She said, 'Lord show me the way.' It looks like she is praying."
Indeed, the song says, "I bow down to pray / And try to make the worst seem better / 'Lord, show me the way'..." She turned her eyes toward heaven. Within the spectacle of performance was a countenance of petition.
After song gave way to football, my mom and I turned off the TV, but our conversation kept returning to Lady Gaga. I remembered an article I read a couple of years ago about Gaga attending a United Methodist church in Pennsylvania with her then-boyfriend. A young singer-songwriter who helped lead worship sang a solo that day, and Lady Gaga texted her with praise and encouragement after the service.
Then across my Facebook news feed came the story that Gaga had attended an early worship service at an Episcopal church in Houston.
Once again, my mom spoke.
"Wow, that means she probably received Holy Communion this morning. Just like your church."
I believe that Damascus Road experiences like Saul's are not one-time conversions but eye-opening experiences we have throughout our lives. That Sunday evening was such a moment of judgmental scales falling from my eyes. I realized that Lady Gaga and I had shared in the same holy meal that morning. Yet here I was, the same day, judging her based on my personal opinions.
The chorus of her song, "A Million Reasons," declares, "You've given me a hundred million reasons to walk away / But I just need one good one to stay."
Sadly, the Church gives people a million reasons to walk away from its doors everyday.
In the brokenness of our bickering and the wounds of our criticizing, the Church has disillusioned many of us. Study after study reveal decreases in worship attendance. I often talk with people who leave the Church feeling rejected and unloved.
Yet here are two stories of how one of the biggest pop stars in the world took the time to go to church. No matter what I thought of Lady Gaga's costume, song choice, or performance style, my mom reminded me of three essential observations:
1. Lady Gaga is a beautiful child of God.
2. Lady Gaga prays to God to show her the way.
3. Lady Gaga gathers to worship God with a community of faith.
What if our churches focused on truly seeing one another as beautiful worshippers around the one table of Jesus Christ our Lord? What if we emphasized our need for restored sight over personal preference? What if we preached more love and less 'ugh' in our words and actions? Maybe there would be less people walking away from the One who loves us most. Maybe we'd find more people gathered in prayer and worship in the Church.
Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta sure does give us a good reason to stay.
all good things to each of you,