you've got a friend in me



i have had toy story on the brain for some time now: i mentioned its release in 3-d in my easter sunday sermon "living in 3-d" (james and i saw it together last friday-- it's awesome!) and the following article appeared in the september edition of our church newsletter:

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Recently I noticed James' old Buzz Lightyear costume hanging in the laundry room. When James was smaller, the Buzz costume could have counted as his skin. He was in that thing all the time (by the way, you know who Buzz Lightyear is, right? You've seen Toy Story, right??). He would wear the costume inside the house. And outside. In August. It would be stuck to his body. Everywhere James was to be found, it was a good bet he was in that costume. The costume has been waiting a couple of years for Miles to grow into it. I can imagine it longing to be worn again, running through the house fighting evil. Today Miles slipped it on, and it fit. He was so excited. This was the legendary Buzz Lightyear costume. He ran around the house for about five minutes, decided it was too scratchy, and took it off. It's now resting on the floor.

Our church is undergoing significant changes right now. Some of those changes are tangible, like new paint, a new worship experience, a new staff member (have you come by the office to welcome Kimberly Acker as our new Office Manager yet?). Sunday mornings are very different now-not only the Crossover service, but when and where children go for Sunday School; how we pray in worship; when and where youth and adult classes are-and who leads them. Some of us react to change with a sense of excitement, wondering what will happen; others react with suspicion: "If it's not broken, why fix it?" The changes we are implementing are all for one purpose: to help our church maintain and expand its ability to reach more and more people for Jesus Christ.

A great thing about being part of a community is that we are all different. Some grew up in church; others have only started attending. Some favor "traditional" worship; others "contemporary." Some believe the church exists for its members; for others it is for those beyond our walls. Some of us get excited about something, while the rest of us think it's no big deal. We all have different experiences and needs. There's no way the church can fulfill everyone's desires exactly as we want-it's just impossible. When we get frustrated, it can be easy to forget that we are part of the same team. Let's stop for a moment and think: "Will this thing I am being asked to do (accept a new teacher, move to a different room, etc.) help the church further its mission? What are these feelings I am experiencing really about?"

I have not heard much frustration voiced over recent weeks, but I imagine it's there. And I understand it. I've had to make compromises in my own routine and choices recently, not necessarily what I would have wanted-having Disciple Bible study meet in our home, for example. But what were the alternatives? Reduce the number of participants from eighteen to six so we could squeeze into my office at church? Find another night away from home and family? Cancel or move another group so my group could have space? On the other hand: What benefits are there for the church to have such a huge Bible study class? How might the church improve and expand its mission when more and more people are growing in their faith and becoming leaders for Christ?

I hope Miles gives the Buzz costume another chance. There is much adventure in that rolled-up pile of polyester and laminated polyurethane. And when we get frustrated as we see changes around us, or we just know we'll be the next one asked to give up/compromise/risk/step out in faith/change, remember: what adventures are possible when we say 'yes'-not just for us but for the whole team?

***
as james and i sat in the cinema, a huge tub of popcorn on his lap, both of us laughing, there were a few tears from me (thanks to the 3-d glasses he couldn't tell). i kept remembering him as a toddler, running through the house with the above-mentioned costume on, or the wonderful home-made woody costume christy made him-- he wore that foam cowboy hat forever! i kept thinking: he's not two or three anymore. he's a 2nd grader now. i didn't long for the past, and i didn't regret the passing of time. i was thankful to have this awesome kid-- and two others! everyone keeps telling me "they grow so fast!" and i suppose they do, but it doesn't seem like yesterday that he was the only kid in the parsonage.

buzz and woody basically have this conversation at the end of toy story 2, promising to enjoy the days with andy as long as they can, knowing when their relationship with him changes they'll always have each other (and it happens: we saw a trailer for toy story 3: andy goes to college and the toys go elsewhere, looks like a daycare facility-- we'll find out in june!). james isn't the toddler anymore, and he won't be the 2nd grader he is today for much longer either. he'll grow up and change-- we all do-- and living in the past was never healthy for anyone. thinking about this, woody says, "i wouldn't miss it for the world." ditto. i am 100% sure the kid in the cowboy hat will always be in there somewhere-- just as the kid with the towel tied around his neck running through the house as superman is still inside of me! to infinity and beyond!

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