#926 – The Wizard

The-Wizard-of-Oz-6-CEMS360

In all of his iterations, people have always gone to the Wizard when they wanted something.

In The Wizard of Oz Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion all have various requests for the Wizard.

In the musical Wicked, Elphaba hoped that the Wizard would “de-greenify” her.

Even in The Great and Powerful Oz, the people of Oz hoped that Oz could rescue them from the Wicked Witch.

The Wizard is something like a big, green genie, whom people call upon to fulfill their wishes and desires.

And while the Wizard is fine for Oz, he’s terrible when we bring him with us into a worship service.

Our church is in the middle of a sermon series called More than a Song. We’re looking at the idea that worship isn’t just something we do when we sing, but it’s something we do with our whole lives. God doesn’t call us to be Sunday worshipers, he calls us to be whole life worshipers, a phrase coined by our worship pastor, Doug.

Worship is all about offering our lives and ourselves to God. So when we think about a worship service, when we think about going to church, our focus needs to be on what we can give to God.

Unfortunately, though, we end up acting a lot like Dorothy when we go to church. Instead of thinking about what we can give to God, we spend the entire church service focused on what we want to get from God.

Dorothy wanted a way home and we just want to put our time in at church so that we can go home.

The Scarecrow wanted a brain and we just want a way to quiet down our brains long enough to stop worrying.

The Tin Man wanted a heart and we just want give God enough of our heart to keep from feeling guilty.

The Lion wanted courage and we just want God to take away our fear without having to fully trust him.

Going to church isn’t like going to see the Wizard. When we walk through the doors of our sanctuary, worship center or auditorium, we need to be focused on what we can bring to God.

In a worship service we can bring God our worship and praise.

In a worship service we can bring God our spiritual gifts and presence.

In a worship service we can bring God our attentive hearts and minds.

Worship isn’t about what we get but what we give. God is worthy of everything we have to give him, both in a worship service and out. So instead of viewing God as the Wizard who will give us what we want, we need to see him as he is: our great and glorious God, worthy of everything we have to give.

What keeps you from going to see the Wizard when you go to church?

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2 Responses to “#926 – The Wizard”

  1. Scott, I like this post a lot! I especially love your basic point, because it is so true and is so often overlooked. We are not the recipients in worship – God is. And for sure God is no “great and terrible” Wizard, no humbug who doesn’t want anyone to find out he’s a fraud.

    The four Oz character’s wishes can also reflect deep longings and not just superficial wants, though. We’re all like Dorothy, longing for our true home; we’re all like the Scarecrow, longing for wisdom; we’re all like the Tin Man, longing not just to receive but to be able to give love; we’re all like the Lion, longing for true courage. Worship still isn’t about meeting our needs, but regularly worshiping God can open us to receiving what we need.

    To answer your question, what keeps me from “going to see the Wizard” on Sundays is the discipline of a set liturgy. The higher church the better for me, personally, which is too bad for me, since most Presbyterians don’t feel the same way! But we do follow a pattern every Sunday that reinforces that worship is centered on hearing and responding to God, not on our needs, however deep and real they may be.

    (Incidentally, I’ve loved Oz since reading Baum’s books as a kid — “Ozma of Oz” is still my favorite. Only saw WICKED last summer — love it, too! Not Maguire’s novel, but the stage show is great. I didn’t care for “Oz the Great and Powerful,” and I am dreading the “Game of Thrones”-style take on Oz coming to TV next year, I think. But Oz endures! The MGM film is still the iconographic take for me, even though it is shallower than Baum’s Oz in many ways. But those characters will forever look like Garland, Bolger, Haley, and Lahr for me.)

    Nice job again!

    • I loved what you had to say about the deeper desires of Dorothy and company. I think that our deepest needs are most fulfilled when we truly worship God. God absolutely gives to us when we give to him, but that shouldn’t be our focus.

      Thanks for your kind words. This post was based on my sermon from this past weekend. I’d post the link but it’s actually the wrong sermon right now. I’ll send it to you when it gets corrected.

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