The Frustration of Life Cycles

At the height of the hippie generation, I remember sitting in a high school class with a history teacher who was a World War 2 army veteran tank commander. Mr. Wilson had a crew cut, was still a chiseled figure, and oozed “duty, honor, country!” The several flower-child hippie students in the class were a total mystery to him. I recall him saying one day that life is full of cycles; and he then directed his remarks at the wire-rimmed, droopy-eyed, anti-war students who expressed their rebellion by sitting together at the rear of the class, “Someday, your kids are going to be pro-military, flag-waving Americans with short hair who look and think like me – just to annoy you!”  My guess is that this probably happened.

There are cycles to life, to values, to tastes, fashions and all manner of things. For example, the short hairstyles and clothing choices of my boys’ generation – wearing long shorts and black socks for example – would have gotten them beaten up at my high school as some sort of ….. well ….. I won’t use the word online. The heavy, thick plastic glasses that are common today were a thing of the 50s and 60s, were replaced by a series of wire-framed styles, and now are back again – thicker and larger than ever.

Things cycle in church ministry as well. In my 30 years of doing this, I’ve seen the adult Sunday morning education component switch back and forth at least 5-6 times between a.) topic-driven electives for whomever is interested, and b.) age- and life stage-related Adult Bible Fellowship groups. The pendulum keeps swinging.

But here is one that I did not see coming back around the corner behind me – an appreciation for the ambiance of the worship space. Younger generations have a renewed appreciation for the environment of the worship experience that engages all the senses. The contemporary-oriented groundbreakers of my generation must have been practical to a fault! We were not necessarily against a nice fixed-seat auditorium with artistic wall treatments, warm color schemes, and the best of lighting packages. But, we did not generally value this as a best use of Kingdom resources. When building TSF in the mid 90s, not only did we not have the finances to build a worship edifice, we chose not to … feeling that the space for meeting mattered little – the real ministry was people, relationships, communication of truth. Who cared what the room looked like? Even a warehouse would work! We’d use the savings for missions. And whatever space we built HAD TO, by our values systems, serve many multiple purposes for all ages and types of ministries. It was seen as a family room, not a living room. But times and preferences change – the pendulum swings, and this swing caught me in the back of the head!

Life does have cycles … but probably you need to be old to feel them as a frustration. And that makes sense, because when you are young, everything is still new. Hearing that anything you are now experiencing is but a repeat of the past is likely not much more than an observation you will weigh about whether to believe it or not – that maybe it is just the whining of an old generation – of people seeking to hang on to something they feel slipping from their grasp.

Solomon said, “Is there anything of which one can say, ‘Look! This is something new’?  It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them.”



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