If you think I preach a lot, you should come live in our house. Most people only hear my sermons on God and the bible, but my family, gets to hear me preach on anything and everything. They have heard sermons on a wide array of topics from how to properly set a baseball glove down, to how to spit, to a complete and thorough defense of Jar-Jar Binks in the Star Wars’ pre-quels, to…well, you get the idea. One sermon that my kids hear often, usually weekly, is my sermon lamenting Saturdays today compared to Saturdays from when I was kid.
I tell my kids Saturday mornings use to be glorious. Each network had on nothing but cartoons from 6 am to noon. I remember waking early and watching the snow until the TV channels began to broadcast. That’s right kids. Channels were not on 24 hours a day back then. You eagerly watched snow until at 6 am, then, you stood at attention in your living room because they played the national anthem. Why did they play the national anthem? Because kids, when something awesome is about to happen such as a football game or church the Sunday closest to Independence Day, you play the national anthem, and boy howdy, Saturday Mornings were awesome.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Denver the Last Dinosaur, X-Men, Fraggle Rock, The Smurfs and their under the sea rip off The Snorks, Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘N’ Wrestling, Spiderman, The Chipmunks, why yes kids, the chipmunks use to be drawn and not concocted by some super computer, it was awesome. You changed the channel as fast as you could during commercials so that you filled up every second of those 6 hours with wonderful hand drawn entertainment or puppets. And kids, the icing on the cake was when the cartoons were over Mel Allen came on afterward with This Week in Baseball. “How about that!” You kids would get that joke if your Saturday morning were cooler.
After the second or third or fifty-ninth time my kids heard that sermon, my eldest daughter said to me, “Dad, you know we have several channels that play nothing but cartoons every day, and Netflix and DVR to watch whatever cartoon we want anytime, and what’s a commercial?”
My thoughtful and mature response to my daughter’s logic was, “Voltron and Muppet Babies are sooooooo much cooler than Sponge Bob!” and I stormed off to sulk.
Man, we can get caught up with the past, can’t we? We hold on to the past. We don’t like to admit it, but we put on the rose colored glasses. We enjoy something, and we never want it to change. We do this at church. We loved church growing up, and we don’t want it to change. We get frustrated that we sing new hymns and new choruses. The preaching is different. The Sunday School books look different. Just as I get frustrated that my kids cannot experience the Saturday mornings that I grew up with, we get frustrated that our kids cannot experience the church we grew up with too.
My kids’ cartoon world, I hate to admit, has some pretty cool qualities. I am 36 years old, and yes, I have Netflixed He-Man. That’s cool. Sometimes we need to admit that worshiping different or Sunday School being different or ministering different can have it’s good qualities too. Some of you might not believe this but Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman love the exact same Jesus as Isaac Watts and Fanny Crosby.
I want us old fogies to realize that change can teach us something about God, but on the flip side, I want the Christians, that want nothing but change, to realize that tradition has its powerful qualities too. As cool as instant cartoons are, my kids will never experience cartoons on every single channel at the same time. The past has a powerful message too.
Read the gospels, the religious elite, the priests, and the scribes, liked worship the way it was. They did not want anything to change, and they missed Jesus! Read Paul’s letters, he was constantly telling churches to stop changing and follow the gospel that he taught according to God’s will. They heard and accepted the gospel and continued to change until they were following something that wasn’t the gospel.
Let’s stop the debate of Tradition and Change. Let’s realize that both have their place. They both have important messages to teach us. They both can drive us closer to God. I want us to realize it is the good ole days AND the good new days.
In stead of arguing for Tradition for Traditions sake or arguing for Change for Changes sake, let’s discern together what is best for the glory of God and the best for the people of our community and our ministries.