Monday, April 18, 2011

“The Need for Easter”

This week without much notice two more soap operas bit the dust; “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” will leave the air waves after more than forty years on the air. When daytime drama hit there prime in 1969 -1970 there were more than 19 daytime shows, now there are only 4. So what contributed to this almost sdistinction og daytime dramas? To answer we must look at the beginning, their origin. Day time dramas began on radio programs that were transferred into another media at the invention of television. They were written and produce by companies that sold household goods. The name "Soap Opera" got their name from the sponsors like soap manufacturers such as Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive and Lever Brothers. Their main target audience was mothers. Each show catered to the stay at home woman who fantasized about wearing expensive clothing, looking great all the time, socializing with rich people, or having a glamorized career such as a doctor, lawyer, or clothes designer. For an hour each day, instead of taking care of the children, doing house keeping, etc, woman could mentally escape to the lives and characters of those on the T.V. When woman began to leave the home and enter the workforce, soap operas took a little decline but bounced back during prime time. Recall Dallas, Dynasty, and who shot J.R.? Soap’s again made a slight rebound with the development of recording devices and satellite television. But neither could sustain their longevity.

But why have they disappeared? Soap opera’s have vanished because a change of several different social norms. First woman stopped staying at home and entered the workforce. They began to pursue the careers and lifestyle they watched on television. They were also not available to tune it. Ratings began to fall. Second, company sponsors no longer had the need to write and produce these shows to push their products if the woman were not watching. Third, soap operas were very expensive to produce, they employ many individuals, so sitcoms became more cost efficient. Sitcoms focused not on fantasy but on the struggles of everyday working folk. Sitcoms were eventually replaced with “reality shows” which are really cheep to produce as society desire is now to be entertained by real folks, not paid actors. Simple put people today have enough drama in thier own lives so they no longer view it as entertainment.

You may be asking why am I wasting time talking and describing the fall of soap operas. Who really cares? We as the church should because it could happen to us. The needs of the people have not changed, only their viewing choices. People need the church now more than ever. People need to hear the Good News that Christ has risen from the tomb. Yes, the tomb was empty. To some of us this may should like a soap opera is it truth. It is a truth that people everywhere desperately need to hear. Our method for connecting to Christ may be different and every changing but the message is still the same. No matter how much we have evolved as a society, the need to hear that the tomb was empty, to hear the gospel story, to understand how much Christ loves us is the same. We all need to hear that God is still relevant in our daily lives. No matter where we are in our life journey the need for God’s love is same. Unconditional love, salvation, forgiveness, mercy and grace are not commodities that diminish in time. We need to hear that death is not the end. Basically we might not need soap operas but we desperately need Easter.
May God bless you and open you up to a deeper understanding of unconditional love.
Peace and Grace,

Monday, April 11, 2011

Can Prayer Come Alive? No Really...

Sometimes prayer is cool other times we have feel prayer is something we do or don't do but are somehow ashamed of. Prayer is a vital part of the way we live out our faith. Prayer is a very intimate talk with our creator. It is like those deep conversations we hold with the person who knows us the best. Those long talks we have with that person in our life from who knows the real us and from whom we cannot hide anything. Prayer can be a helpful tool to help us navigate through whatever life throws at us. But does prayer come alive? As one young man put it, “I believe in it and all that, but for some reason prayer has never really made any sense for me.” Indeed for all of us there have probably been times when prayer has dried up like a desert. There have been times of pain and trial when we wanted to reach out and touch the hand of God and could not feel His presence at all.

Prayer can come alive if we are willing to make a honest commitment. Prayer comes alive as we share our deepest needs and burdens with brothers and sisters in the faith. Can you imagine how it must have been for Peter, James and John when Jesus took them with Him into the deepest recesses of His pain? “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death…stay here and watch with me.”

Somehow, that strikes me to the core. If God’s own Son could acknowledge His own deep and troubled sorrow - His need for someone close to “watch” with Him - then how much more so do we need that kind of spiritual bonding with others? In those kinds of experiences, a bonding of the spirit takes place that happens in no other way. A fellowship of faith is built that is beyond anything the natural mind can conceive! Prayer comes alive when we are able to accept that which we cannot understand and trust God for that which we cannot know!

The final key to the whole understanding of living prayer is this one word of Jesus: “NEVERTHELESS”. In the garden Jesus prayed “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me…NEVERTHELESS…not my will but Thine be done.” The heart of our relationship with God is born of our surrender to Him of every claim…we finally acknowledge that we are not in control…it is His wisdom that we will lean on and not our own…His strength…His grace and love. “Oh, my Lord I do not understand this pain…but I will trust You for the fact that You can care for me…” Now Jesus could face Calvary. Calvary’s battle was won at Gethsemane. The burden He carried was settled there before He ever picked up the cross. He could face Calvary only in light of His total surrender to God in Gethsemane. Now we too can face life as we surrender the heart of whom and what we are to the One who won the battle for us in Gethsemane! It may not be natural at first but with a littel commitment prayer can come alive. We can come alive.  Nevertheless may prayer come alive for you!

See you in church, but until then may your prayer come alive, and take care of yourself and one another,
Peace & Grace,