“Happy birthday Grandma! Oh, the game is on.”
My grandma turned 85 this past year during March Madness. I love my grandparents. I remember spending the night at their house as a kid. Grandma would read us nursery rhymes. Grandpa would make us hotcakes in the morning. It was glorious.
My grandparents are fading. It happens with age. My family has gotten used to having the same conversation with Grandpa. It’s ok. Given how much they have done for us, I’ll bend over backwards to ensure they feel as normal and loved as I can make them.
Calvin Meets Wesley Becomes . . . Luther?
I grew up in a Lutheran church. Mom was raised Methodist; Dad was raised Presbyterian. Lutheran makes a weird kind of sense.
Because of my Lutheran heritage, I have a deep appreciation for the season of Lent. Lent reflects the 40 days when Jesus fasted and suffered in the desert right before beginning his ministry. Three of the gospels record his suffering (Matthew 4:1–11, Luke 4:1–13, and Mark 1:9–11). Every year, Christians and non-Christians alike participate in Lent in honor of that suffering.
We give up something as a reflection of Jesus’s 40 day fast. I’ve given up Mountain Dew (which broke the addiction I had to it), sugar (my wife didn’t appreciate that as she’s the cook), even bread (again, my wife didn’t appreciate that). I have a tendency to figure out what I’m giving up the day before Lent, so I appreciate her frustration. I throw off her ability to cook. Bless you, my love!
This year I decided to give up something that wouldn’t affect my wife: television. Due to costs, we’ve already cut out cable. But Netflix has become my latest addiction. Every night when the kids are in bed, on goes the TV and off goes my brain.
Fasting Without Community Support Is Hard
So I decided to give up TV for Lent. It turns out giving up TV was harder than any other Lenten fast I’ve ever done. I shouldn’t be so surprised. I didn’t want it to affect my wife, so she still watched TV. My son still watched his cartoons. And I gave up TV during March Madness.
I’m the only person in my family who doesn’t care about sports. During Civil War I’m a Beaver all the way. The rest of the time, I couldn’t care less. Not so my family.
Grandma turned 85 during March Madness and my television fast. Turns out, my family is more into TV than I had realized. During her birthday party, the TV was on the entire time. Even Grandma was digging March Madness.
I hung with my family and tried to read instead. But crap it was hard not to watch. Even though I’m not all that in to March Madness (I know it’s sad), I still wanted to watch it. Turns out, community support while fasting is crucial to success. Maybe that’s why Jesus went into the desert. It was easier to get away from everyone than to try and do it alone.
Technology Has Become a Tool for Community
I remember going to Beaver basketball games with my parents. During halftime, we’d always go visit my grandparents who had seats on the other side of the stadium. The best part of the game was going to see Grandma and Grandpa. Sure, you could watch the game on TV, but at that time not everyone had access to it.
Today, sports channels are pretty much bundled into every TV package. Instead of gathering at the stadium, we now gather in the living room. Technology is a tool that allows us to have community without leaving the comfort of our homes. Everything from video games to movies can all be done while still in my pajamas.
Barbara Brown Taylor wrote in her book An Altar in the World,
“In an age of information overload . . . the last thing any of us needs is more information about God. We need the practice of incarnation, by which God saves the lives of those whose intellectual assent has turned them dry as dust, who have run frighteningly low on the bread of life, who are dying to know more God in their bodies. Not more about God. More God.”
How is the church stepping into this television saturated culture? We have televangelists, but their reputation isn’t exactly beneficial for the church. Too many of these sought money over gospel. Even Christians no longer trust what they say.
There’s an opening somewhere in this. Perhaps it’s showing the big game in our churches. Maybe we watch movies together instead of the latest marriage seminar. Or perhaps instead of making people come to us, we bring the gospel to them. Right there in their living room. Imagine that. The church brings God to your home.
If we are to be the incarnation of the gospel in our culture, we can’t do it by being a hub, a nexus to which people must travel to get the gospel. Instead, the gospel must find it’s way into homes. What would it look like for the gospel to meet people while still in their pajamas?