Happy Fifth Birthday Again!

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?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

14 thoughts on “Happy Fifth Birthday Again!

  1. I'd be hoping there was a new box of crayons among all those pretty packages! I can almost smell them now . . . I'd hope there was plain paper to go with those crayons. Not a coloring book in which I would be expected to stay in the lines . . . I'd like to rip the edges of the paper so you couldn't really tell where the picture begins and ends . . . and then I'd like to hang it on the fridge at an angle. My Mom would love the drawing because I'm different from my brothers and sister and she would immediately know that it was something I created, cuz it's different from what they would have created. I see, hear, imagine and share things just a little bit different than my brothers and sister and the greatest thing is . . . she loves me for it! She's glad I'm willing to share it instead of being afraid that it's not like everyone else's and might not be appreciated. She tells me the Lord placed me in her life to teach her that all of her children are special and important and created differently for their specific purpose and so we can't be the same, on purpose!

      • What a great post! It got me thinking about an article I just read about businesses and "breaking the mold" for innovation and market-driving changes. http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2010/04/what_every_busine
        (I hope the link works–it came from the Harvard Business Review blogs)
        There is quite a bit of risk in trying to be creative and changing or altering something that seems to be working for most people, but when done deliberately and thoughtfully, the rewards can be amazing! 5 year olds are not constrained by the fear of risk–at least I hope they aren't. If they fail or fall, they are much quicker to pick themselves up and either try again or go in a different direction. As non-5-year-olds, we reflect on the failure, scrutinize the situation, go through different scenarios that could have resulted in a different outcome and can become prone to paralysis by analysis. We might be better served to not worry about the outcome so much.
        But wait, didn't I just say when changes are done deliberately and thoughtfully, the rewards could be great? And don't you need analysis and scenarios and reflection to be deliberate and thoughtful? Yes, I did. But failures happen and that shouldn't stop us from trying other things or trying similar things in different ways.
        And creativity shouldn't be constrained by failures or self-imposed limitations. Five year olds are growing and learning every day and their creativity blossoms. If we continue to grow and learn, creativity isn't such a mountain to climb, and the fall isn't as far when we do fail.

        As Edison famously declared: I have not failed. I just found 10,000 ways not to make a light bulb. Thankfully he was still being creative on attempt 10,001!

        Thanks again for the post!

  2. I love your approach to creativity in your ministry. And remember your sixth birthday when we made the film: "Now I am six, I can do anything?" ???

  3. Does anyone know the title of the song in the background for the at&t commercial. it's so familiar and I just can't place it! From a broadway show?

    HELP! (please)

  4. WOW! Right on! What a relief Now all the pieces fit.
    So grateful for your knowledge . . and memory 🙂

  5. I'm guessing you must be Thomas. I found your blog a little bit late in the day, but I will have to return and open up a channel of discourse.

  6. I think the commercial is for the iPad. Seriously – it's a "generic" commercial by AT&T about imagination – yet AT&T (right now) is the only one who has the iPhone and the iPad. If you have an iPhone, how excited would you be to have an iPad? Like you got a power ranger or a barbie when you were turning 5. How can you make a 40 year old feel like they are 5 again?? Get a new iPhone. A new iPad. I totally, totally get it.