Saturday, June 7, 2008

Christian Supply


Went to the Christian Supply store yesterday in search of a small, cheap communion set. Current one-day/week supply ministry has me calling on people who can't get to church. Two men, both veterans, and anyone else sick or just out of the hospital.

I can barely stand to set foot inside the Christan Supply store. It's as though I need to hold my breath before entering, quickly run inside to see if I can find what I need/want, then escape to breathe the fresh vehicle exhaust on busy SE Division Street. Really. Went there once looking for candles. Found better, cheaper ones at Fred Meyer. Far better, way cheaper.

Since the word "Christian" is always used as a noun in the New Testament, never as an adjective, should I understand the name of this store this way? That is, does it supply Christians to the world? I didn't see any on the shelves. I did see a lot of needless junk that will soon end up in landfills. There's a yellow and black plastic flashlighlight made in China. It's Christian, I guess, because it has a sticker saying something about Jesus lighting the way. Batteries not included. Life expectancy of the product? About 10 weeks if you never use or drop it.

There are bad art prints of a Jesus so cosmetized, idealized and fictionalized that he would never touch lepers, tax collectors and sinners. Not without 24 hours at a day spa, hair mousse and a pedicure.

The music department is a mystery. Large flat screen TV's run non-stop videos of "Christian" rock conerts with light shows, blue smoke in the air, screaming teens, weeping SUV Moms and Jesus-haired young studs wearing five kinds of die-cast metal crosses. Each. I have scrounged and scrounged and scrounged the recordings looking for things I could use to lead the singing at my little Operation Nightwatch worship service on Sunday evenings. Almost all of it is unusable because it is about performance, hype, manufactured and manipulated emotions that encourage listening but not singing, non-participation rather than participation. In other words, a concert, not worship. Even the stuff packaged and promoted as designed for leading worship. I thought worship was about doing, not watching...

Is this what it takes to be a Christian in consumer culture? Do we comment on our culture by not only copying it but also by trying to outdo it?

Never did find a communion set. Cheapest ones I have seen in catalogs have been around 40 bucks. They go way up from there depending on how much cuteness you want.

Escaped empty-handed. Ah, the fresh exhaust and traffic noise! L'chaim!

Went to the little Salvation Army thrift store on NE Halsey Street. Found a nice little blue/white china dish (Israelite colors) for a paten and a nice little glass goblet for a chalice for 99 cents each. Found a great little Liz Claiborne genuine leather bag for $2.50. All I have to do is shorten the strap. No vinyl. No shipping clear from China. Well-made. Sturdy. Simple. Basic. Not destined for a landfill or rummage sale in 90 days. Total price: $4.48.

WWJB? What would Jesus buy if he went to Christian Supply? Is this what he had in mind as the fulfillment of seeking first the kingdom of God and the righteousness thereof?

What do you think?

About 10 blocks away men stand on the I-205 overpass with their signs. Several weeks ago one of them, a Vietnam vet, said to me, "I've been standing on this bridge for six years and no one has ever offered me a job." And we consumers bitch about the economy and gas prices.

I guess we've all been too busy trying to get to the next source of Christian supply. WWJB?


Pastor Roger

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