I like Cracker Barrel. I get excited when I revisit things from my childhood like candy from the 70’s and 80’s. I find myself showing my kids the toys I used to have. My father and grandfather go there and celebrate things from their generation. The type of food and the smell of the fireplace always take us back to our childhood. It’s comforting, it’s “comfort food.”
However, my kids don’t really like it. This shocked me until I realized that there is nothing there from their generation. There are toys, but not their toys. There are treats, but not their treats. There are no remote controlled robots, no iPods, no latest styles or newest tunes. Sure, my kids humor me as they try “my” candy and as I try to sell them on “my” generation, but the whole Cracker Barrel thing just isn’t theirs.
Isn’t this just like our faith? How many of us go to church trying to recapture the nostalgia of days gone by? How many of us try to remanufacture what once happened, and, like Cracker Barrel, repackage it and try to sell it to the next generation hoping they will get the same thrill we get by reliving it? Too often our walk with God is lived in the past tense. We like “comfort food” for the soul. We want things that make us nostalgic and too often confuse that with a real move of God. Scripture tells us “His mercies are new every morning.” What new recipe can God try on us today? Are we willing to let the Lord teach us something fresh? Will we allow Him to lead us into new experiences and memories? Will we share the good things of the past while allowing a new generation to share with us good things from today? There is a place in my diet for Cracker Barrel. I like it. But, there is also a place for new restaurants, new candy, new music, new styles and new recipes. There is a place in my worship for connecting with the past and for sharing it with a new generation. However, there needs to be openness to new things, new learning, new directions, new worship experiences and fresh revelation.
Tim Stutler is pastor and worship leader at Goodlettsville Church, a Cumberland Presbyterian Church in middle Tennessee. He has a Bachelor of Music Performance from the University of Kentucky and an M.Div. in Worship from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been leading worship since 1985.