Monday, June 11, 2012

No School like the Old School

Once upon a time, Wendy and I owned a 1968 Volkswagen Beetle, with all the fun, trials, quirks, and enjoyment that that implies. No, the car wasn't perfect, and yet we still remember it quite fondly.

Likewise, the churches that we grew up in weren't perfect, either, and yet there are nostalgic elements that we look back on with great fondness to this day.

I'm thinking primarily of community, which has become something of a rallying cry in the early 21st century. Prior to the Lord's Day Act being declared unconstitutional in Canada during the mid-1980's, everyone -- religious or non-religious -- could look forward to having one day in the week where most of the country's population had a common day off. (Exceptions included hospitals, gas stations, and anyone who lived on a farm.)

My memories of church life as a youngster included the almost iron-clad tradition (or tremendously good habit) of having people over for lunch after church. Hardly a Sunday would go by, when we would have guests in our house -- and my mom would make the traditional and mouth-watering family favourite (handed down from my grandmother): 'chicken 'n' herbs' -- or we would find ourselves guests at another family's abode.

And if your church was like ours back in the day, and had an evening service as well, it was quite common to repeat the hospitality-fest all over again.

Old Man #1: "Ya see that? That's the way to do it. That's old school."

Old Man #2: "Yeah. No school like the old school."
(The Incredibles)

Of course, the blame for this changing cannot be laid solely at the feet of the abolition of the Lord's Day Act. Sunday shopping changed the playing field, but it didn't have to affect hospitality. Surely, with a bit of creative intent, we could have found ways of preserving the table-fellowship community that once typified many churches, not that long ago.
For all those who lament that church gatherings cannot possibly qualify as adequate 'community', perhaps we could stop expecting 'the church' to do everything for us, and take the initiative of opening our homes again?
I'll admit to being a little 'retro' at heart. I'm not blindly nostalgic for "the good old days", but I do enjoy kicking things 'old school'. For example, I'm one of those stubborn curmudgeons that brings my Bible to church. Yes, I know it's all on the powerpoint anyway, but seriously -- why do people look at me like I'm a freak for bringing a Bible to church?

Last night, an eclectic group of thirteen gathered on our carport deck for mountainous plates of nachos: Baptist, Mennonite, Vineyard, Reformed (pastors, no less), and Charismatic. (The beer was provided by the Baptist, and the Calvinists supplied the wine.) Obviously, we weren't even all from the same church, yet there was a genuine sense of table-fellowship and camaraderie. And we briefly, in between the laughter and story-telling, reflected on the missing jewel of old-school, after-church hospitality.

I think some old-school traditions may find the dust being shaken off.

There's no school like the old school.


  1. It is nice to step out of the rat race (picture a torado going round and round with a persons leg stepping out of it) and sit down to break bread together. Very important act in order to bring family and community together.

  2. Neil, some of my fondest memories of our time on Vancouver Island was after the youth group, when the youth leaders (and some of the youth) would all crowd into our living room until almost midnight, just enjoying the relationships we had together.

    Another special memory of that time was when you and Daryl "rapped" a bedtime storybook for Jordan, when she was 3. :)

    LOVED the mental picture of the tornado you described, by the way!

  3. One of the best parts of our little gathering here in Trail/Warfield is Sunday afternoon potlucks, that and the fact that there are as many children as adults. And life in the Kootenays is far less "driven". I guess in a sense you could say that having a potluck after the church service is contrived. It's not forced, but it is planned and so a critic might say that since it's not spontaneous it can't be real community (I disagree), but it definitely helps people to hang out with each other at least for an hour or two per week.