Catering or Creating?
You may have heard the question asked before, "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" It is sometimes asked in order to be silly and other times asked as a metaphor for a situation where two things are related and one is trying to figure out which thing came first.
Today is what is known in the Church as Good Friday. It is the day when we remember Jesus being crucified on a cross, dying, and being placed into a tomb. It is a somber day of reflection and remembrance as we prepare for the joy that comes on Easter Sunday.
I stopped by the mall today to grab food from Raising Cane's which just opened yesterday. I hadn't eaten there since I left Texas and was excited to see that one was opening here in St. Louis. It struck me while I was at the mall that you would have never been able to tell that today was Good Friday by all of the hustle and bustle there. The whole place was busy and people were coming and going, seemingly oblivious to what today signifies. Now I'm sure that many of them are non-Christians who may not know or even care about Good Friday. But how about the Christians? Is this just another day to "clock in" at Church if you feel like going? Or is it a day for more than that? Do the Christians even know the significance of this day?
It got me thinking about how the trend in many churches is to play down the significance of many historic practices. In my own church body, the practice has become to celebrate "Passion Sunday" the week before Easter rather than simply "Palm Sunday". On Passion Sunday a church will briefly talk about the Palm Sunday processional, but the rest of the service will be focused on the passion week account of Jesus' last days. More than one cynical person has said that we do this because people don't show up for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services anymore and they need to see Jesus die before they can come back on Easter and see him rise again. Whether this is the true motivation or not, I have no idea.
It makes me wonder, though, if we downplay the significance of these events because people lost interest in them or if people lost interest in them because we downplayed their significance. I think a lot of times we want to believe that it is the first one and that we're just catering to people where they're at. I wonder sometimes if it isn't the second one. If we, as a church, are responsible for peoples' interest or lack of interest in what God has done for them and if we have created a generation of people who don't see much difference between their "Church life" and their "home life".
I don't have an answer for this and I think it is something that would be hard to prove either way, but I think it is worth thinking about.
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My name is Tom. I'm fascinated by the ways that people, ideas, current events and theology interact with each other.