I’ve been told that most of us do some of our most effective thinking in the shower…well at least that’s what I’ve been told. For me, it’s usually some of my most bizarre thinking. For instance, this last week, all of a sudden I found myself singing my elementary school’s Alma Mater. What…your elementary school didn’t have an Alma Mater? Anyway, all of a sudden, here I am singing:
We all love you Happy Valley for you lead us to the light, We salute you Happy Valley, we salute the green and white. Though our years may see us wander far from your dear halls so bright. All our memories will grow fonder, ever nearer, ever dearer green and white
And all of a sudden I am taken back to Happy Valley Elementary school. That’s right, the name of my elementary school was Happy Valley. Could it get more nostalgic Americana than that? The sad thing is; Happy Valley doesn’t exist anymore.
Granted the building is still there, but Happy Valley gave rise to Stone Creek or Heritage or some other name that would appeal to the broader community. All of a sudden I find myself singing a song that really doesn’t even make a difference in the world aside from memory. This song doesn’t speak to the current times and honestly were I to try to teach it to anyone who would listen they would wonder as to why. I am sometimes struck as to whether or not this is how the church may seem to broader culture. When we hear phrases like “if we could just get back to the way church used to be” or “I remember when we could just have revival and everyone would show up”, I think we may be missing the mark. Not that there isn’t value in remembrance or even in nostalgia, but when we pine for something that doesn’t carry any weight or value with the world around us, have we lost our saltiness?
In the latter part of the New Testament we have a couple of letters written by the Apostle Peter. They are written to the dispersed Jews from Jerusalem. This group of people have lost their place and influence in society. They have lost their home and their identity. And in the midst of this, Peter writes, “Instead, regard Christ the Lord as holy in your hearts. Whenever anyone asks you to speak of your hope, be ready to defend it. Yet do this with respectful humility, maintaining a good conscience. Act in this way so that those who malign your good lifestyle in Christ may be ashamed when they slander you.” – 1 Peter 3:15-16 Always be ready to speak about your hope…I might even add, Always be ready to speak about your hope in a way that makes sense to the audience your speaking to. We can no longer be content to use outdated metaphors, christian-ese (church talk) or even just disengage because we long for the way things used to be. We have to be able to give a reason for the hope we have and do it in such a way that it makes sense. Maybe the world is changing too fast. Maybe it would be easier to go back to Happy Valley. But the world moves on, God’s mission continues and it’s up to us to keep speaking about the hope we have in a way that makes sense to this ever-changing world.