Monday, November 17, 2008
I serve on the vestry at my church as the "Commissioner for Stewardship" and also am the co-chair of this year's stewardship campaign. As such, I have had to make a series of announcements to the church about stewardship and so forth. Yesterday was our "Stewardship Ingathering", where we ask the people to make the pledge commitments and in one final talk, I thought I would spice it up by performing a magic trick (one that I hadn't performed in more than 20 years) in front of the whole church.
We built a theme of stewardship using a balloon metaphor. Without going into detail, I blew up the balloon (bantering along the way to drive home the point of the balloon thing). While tying off the balloon, I told everyone I was going to ask them to do something that may be a little uncomfortable, but to go with it. I asked everyone to partner up with someone, look them in the eye, and say, "I believe in you." This was quite interesting to watch.
I then went into how our faith revolves around a God that we can't physically see, feel or touch. We call ourselves children of God and therefore, are we not representatives of God? So, if we can't find a way to believe in each other, how can we truly believe in God? The felling in the room was exactly how I imagined I wanted it to be so I was on a high – then came the magic trick part.
I said, "Sometimes, if you believe in something enough, you can achieve that which may seem impossible." I then held up a rather large, sharp, stainless steel needle with a ribbon threaded through the end and proceeded to insert the needle into the balloon. When the needle was fully inserted and protruding I held up the "miracle" and then I pulled the need all the way through, all without bursting the balloon. They were impressed enough to offer a rather cheerful round of applause but this wasn't about me or my ability to entertain so much as to drive home a point (not that the applause wasn't fulfilling). I then offered a loud "But…we mustn't be complacent. "For once we stop believing (I then use the same needle that I passed through the balloon to pop it – that get's their attention), there may not be anything left to believe in (kind of a dual purpose line, one that hopefully gets them to think. I was driving home the "in" as in the place where we worship – the congregation itself, but I really wanted it to be left to their own thought process)."
It was a pretty cool and moving experience for me.