Have you seen Sam Woolf?
He's the young man, just turned 18 years old, from Bradenton who made it into the final 5 contestants on "American Idol."
My daughter, age 10, loves Sam.
Personally, I think Sam is fantastic for an entirely different reason.
Sam has done something really wonderful for Bradenton. He has gone on national television and shown the country a different side of our little town.
Sam is not what people expect to see when they think of Bradenton -- his grandpa, Roy, is.
And that's what I love about him. He's made Bradenton's image to the country into something totally unexpected!
What do you think of when you think of "church?"
Is your image based on a picture of the first building that you ever worshipped in?
Do you think of a certain type of music?
What about time? Does church always have to be at a certain time to "be church"?
And should the person up front be a man in a suit and tie?
Did you know that the earliest churches, the ones that started right after the death of Jesus, didn't have music at all?
Did you know a vast majority of the early church growth movement was financed by women?
One of the greatest "catastrophes" that ever happened in the history of the Church was when the Catholic Mass was held in languages other than Latin -- can you just imagine the horror of an entire worship service done in English?!
There's this great passage in the book of Ecclesiastes where we are encouraged to try all kinds of unexpected things. Ecclesiastes 11:5-6 : "God's ways are as mysterious as the pathway of the wind and as the manner in which a human spirit is infused into the little body of a baby while it is yet in its mother's womb. Keep on sowing your seed, for you never know which will grow -- perhaps it all will."
One of my biggest thrills in day to day life is that moment when someone discovers I'm a pastor.
I'm too young.
I'm a woman.
I'm a mom.
I go on class field trips and I shop at the grocery store and know all the words to almost every song on the Top 40. On the rare occasion when I introduce myself as Rev. Lee, people always do a double-take because mostly, I'm just Hope.
I particularly love it when people visit our church for the first time and are so surprised to see that I preach right out of the Bible, not with commentaries or some sort of social agenda. It's just simple, straight up gospel as it impacts our life today.
It's good to do something unexpected every now and again. It's good to plant some different seeds -- for you never know which will grow -- perhaps it all will.
I like Sam Woolf. He's done something really unexpected for our little town and it's turning out really well for all of us.
Maybe this summer, you should try something unexpected, you never know how your faith and life might grow out of it!
The Rev. Hope Lee, lead pastor of Kirkwood Presbyterian Church, can be reached at 941-794-6229, firstname.lastname@example.org or at biggreenchurch.org. Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday's Herald written by local clergy members.