The drawings of children appear in the midst of an actual cityscape of New York City. The cute little sketches creep around buildings and appear to be coming to life. “Remember when you were five,” the voice says, “and anything was possible? Happy fifth birthday again.” It’s a message that immediately drew me in. It resonated deep within me.
It’s just a commercial for AT&T that I saw while watching The Masters Golf Tournament, but it resonated with me, because we still find ourselves in the midst of the Easter season. Easter means talking about “eighth day,” “new creation,” “resurrection” kind of stuff, and the idea of new possibility is as “Easter” as it gets. Believers ought to be living life as if “anything is possible,” because in all actuality, anything is possible in the newly born kingdom of God. We may not completely experience it now, but at the resurrection, in the newly created heavens and earth, anything will be possible in our “life after life after death,” as Thomas Wright calls it.
For now, we get to practice living an “anything is possible” kind of life right here and right now.
But the “Happy Fifth Birthday” commercial resonated with me on another level, as well. I come from a creative family. Both of my children are pursuing “creative” studies and careers. And yet, I am a pastor in a church body that tends to stifle creativity. We like to put both “theology” and “practice” in neat, tidy little boxes. And there is much about that which is good. It’s very easy to discern exactly where the Lutheran Church –Missouri Synod stands. Our theology and practice are based on the clear teachings of Scripture. You can’t go wrong with that.
But too many stifle creativity based on tradition, or taste, or preference. In terms of practice in the church, there is much that falls under the category of adiaphora (neither commanded nor forbidden by Scripture). And yet people are strident about the way things are “supposed to be.” I want it to be my fifth birthday again, but sometimes it scares me because of the negative ways in which people might react.
And yet I believe that I serve a God who is, in His very essence, creative. Because I was created by Him, He has given me the desire and the gifts to be creative. Sure there are parameters in ministry and practice. But I believe my God has given me the desire to live, and serve, and create like it’s my fifth birthday again.
Kudos to my congregation, Mt. Calvary Lutheran in Milwaukee, for bearing with me, and being open to expressions of creativity. I know it’s not easy for everyone, and we’ve got a ways to go, but I believe that creative proclamation of the Gospel has kept people interested, engaged, and responsive.
If it were your fifth birthday today, what would you dream, or create, or envision?