Growing up in the ’70s and ’80s in a family that was actively involved in a Baptist* congregation meant going to church on Wednesdays as well as Sundays.
*Important distinction: ours was (well, still is) an American Baptist church, not part of the Southern Baptist Convention. We may have been White evangelicals (though we never used that term), but not in the “we want to legally discriminate against women and gays and immigrants and people of color and…” way.
I don’t recall any specific content from those Wednesday night programs. But I do remember a big blue binder to hold our materials and fun Sunday evenings with my best friend Dan working on our lessons. What remains is a generalized fondness for that time, though I don’t think it rises to the level of nostalgia. Or maybe that’s just my current distrust of nostalgia talking?
It seemed that there were no school or other organization’s activities on Wednesday nights so that those nights were free for church. Obviously that’s not the case today. Heck, our kids’ high school teams have practices and competitions on Sunday mornings. No quarter given and, frankly, none expected. That ship has long sailed. Still, fast forward to the early 2000s and you’ll find that Wednesday night youth group at the church where I serve, Woodridge UMC, had a good 15 year run. Then there came a day when that run ended. Which, again, is fine. Change is our only constant, right?
Where is this going? Fair question. Part reflection and part excuse for momentarily returning to Wednesday church through…a sermon post. Our readings were from Isaiah 35 and Matthew 11, but I was feeling a longing for the days when our kids would sit in my lap and we would read books. Somehow I ended up with “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie…” in my hands. Then “If You Give a Moose a Muffin” and “If You Take a Mouse to the Movies.” Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond were frequent contributors to our reading time. Somewhere along the way I got inspired to attempt a version of their storytelling technique as my sermon.
If you give a disciple a pep talk about Jesus, she will probably be reminded of Joshua…
If the disciple is reminded of Joshua, she will want to reread his story…
If the disciple rereads Joshua’s story, she is likely going to get excited!
It goes on from there, though I probably didn’t really pull it off, but…marks for trying maybe? I also quote from Diana Butler Bass’ newsletter. Plus, this commentary on “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” was good and fun. Give it a watch or listen and let me know.
Nostalgia at its worst becomes toxic and connected to White resentment which leads to anger, oppression, violence, and death. But this time of year it is hard not to be nostalgic for the way the world was when you were young. Or when your now adult children were young…Me? I have old children’s books on the brain.
If she asks her question of Jesus and if she is able to see and hear what Jesus is saying, the disciple will realize the Kin-dom we are waiting for doesn’t arrive like a mighty army ready to slaughter all in its way. Instead, with Jesus’ response ringing in her ears and resonating in her soul, the disciple will remember the inspiring words of Isaiah, who long ago offered a beautiful, stirring vision of hope and joy for his people. A vision of hope and joy even in the midst of devastating circumstances — especially in the midst of devastating circumstances.
She will understand the dream God has for all people and all of creation–a dream where all flourish. She will know that God cares about her, yes her, cares when her knees ache, cares when her heart breaks, and never leaves her alone in her pain.
P.S. “On the third Sunday of Advent, we light pink!”
Photo by Kolby Milton on Unsplash
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