On aging gracefully

It is a bit of a cliche right now to harp on about youth and young adults rejecting traditional modes of church in the contemporary culture, or conversely to bang on about how they all really want to be medieval monks. Still, cliches become such for a reason, so I’ll join in.

In conversation with my small and select family focus group this weekend, we arrived at some simple but elegant conclusions:

1) “Contemporary” culture is a moving target, and try as we like, the church will never hit it. By the time the bulletins are printed, or the amps rented, or the tent erected, or the tweets re-tweeted sufficient times, the populace will have moved on to the next thing with barely a sigh or a shrug, and only the friendliest of regretful smiles over their shoulders.

2 So, church might as well put its energy into what it does well: reflecting the timelessness of God, the permanence of grace, the fluidity or forgiveness.

3) That said, if there had never been movements, or ages, or epochs in the church we would not have solidified our liturgies into Latin, nor would we have broken them out again into a thousand tongues.

4) So, recognizing that contemporary is old hat, and modern is outmoded, here are some suggestions for presenting worship in a faithful and timeless way, which nevertheless appeals to the fashion-hungry teens of today (or, at least, yesterday):

5) Instead of trying to sell the music of the last century as the latest in pop culture, acknowledge its “RETRO” power;

6) If “traditional” sounds stuffy and old-fashioned to your ears, try “VINTAGE.” Tasty, tasteful, and never goes out of style;

7) As for the renewal of the most antique of liturgies, enjoy the archeology and call them “POSITIVELY PREHISTORIC.” After all, who doesn’t love a dinosaur? Especially in animal blessing season.

Peace out.

About Rosalind C Hughes

Rosalind C Hughes is a priest and author living near the shores of Lake Erie. After growing up in England and Wales, and living briefly in Singapore, she is now settled in Ohio. She serves an Episcopal church just outside Cleveland. Rosalind is the author of A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing , and Whom Shall I Fear? Urgent Questions for Christians in an Age of Violence, both from Upper Room Books. She loves the lake, misses the ocean, and is finally coming to terms with snow.
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