Ok. Before I dive into this, let me clarify two things that I am not saying today:
- I make great efforts to not tie myself to any traditions for the sake of tradition or to keep with the seven words that we hear so often: “we’ve never done it like that before”.
- I am not making some sort of cry that things were better way back when or do I herald a call to return to any time period.
Having said that, there are several things that I see trending around me in church life that have changed. All of this is based on a conversation that I had with an older, godly woman in my church who was expressing her concerns for the current state of things. In her 80+ years, she has seen lots of changes – good and bad, beneficial and destructive; she has seen the building and upkeep of the majority of our facilities here at Duck Hill Baptist. She has seen generations born and many come to know Christ as well as many who have gone on from this life and those who have up and left. While we may not agree on every point of every subject, her friendship, experience, and wisdom is much appreciated and highly valued.
To help you, hypothetical reader, to understand the heart of this lady, I must give you the context and setting of our conversation. She, as she does regularly, had come to the church (without announcing her presence to any) to come and clean the Sunday School rooms in our Family Life Center. When I stumbled upon her yesterday, she had a large garbage bag that was brimming with trash, much of which was from garbage cans which had been allowed to overflow onto the floor. She was greatly saddened by the fact that it seemed as if people just did not care. She came to this conclusion because of 1) rather than emptying the garbage cans, people piled garbage higher or simply placed the garbage on the floor around the cans and 2) much of the garbage consisted of food and drink which is prohibited in carpeted areas of the Family Life Center.
She looked at me with sad expression and an emotional quake to her voice and said: “Keith, it’s almost like people just don’t care about anything, especially rules. I remember taking some pride in our church when we really didn’t have anything. What can we do?”
I have to admit. I was feeling quite terrible at this point. I had stumbled across this elderly lady who was seeking to serve by picking up trash – not outside on the church grounds – inside the church. On top of the sack of garbage was the “NO FOOD OR DRINK ALLOWED” sign that she had torn off because of the blatant disregard of the rule. What can we do?
Now, this is not a treatise on trash but rather of a contemplative look at what we care about. I feel as if there is no real direction in my writing of this, but it is something that should be said. Something that should be contemplated.
What makes us think that rules don’t apply to us?
What makes us think we are too good to empty a trash can?
How can we change?
I’ll be honest. I don’t have a solution campaign nor will I mount a trash can campaign among the Sunday School. What, however, will happen is that the next time I think that somebody should take care of something, I’ll be that somebody so that an 80+ year old woman will not come behind me and clean up after me.
Maybe I’m old fashioned and think that we should have more regard for God’s facilities (that’s right, I said His facilities not ours) than we do. As I write this, our ministry assistant who also cleans the sanctuary and children’s building (it is up to the individual classes and whatnot to clean the FLC) is heading to clean the sanctuary where people, grown and child alike, have shoved their candy wrappers into the pew cushions and Lord’s Supper cup holders as well as disregarded bulletins and other trash on the floor. Maybe I am old fashioned. But maybe I’m not.
What am I trying to accomplish with this twisting rant? I don’t know.
But maybe – just maybe – the next time you are about to put your gum wrapper in the pew cushion, you may carry it to a garbage can. It’s a novel thought, I know.
Anyway for what it’s worth,