Fine China

One of my earliest memories was setting the table for my mother. It must have been a special time because we used her strawberry dishes from the curio cabinet. The setting would boast of homemade bread and mom’s red sauce pasta. A salad plate was on top as usual; a side plate for the oil. It might just be my nostalgic sense, but I was saddened to read of the reasons for getting rid of “grandma’s china dishes” in the Associated Press. Younger couples are either uncultured or just don’t have room to store the occasional plate wear. Some spoke of being more casual than their parents while others decried the hassle of moving, carrying boxes from city to city.

Neda Ghaffari, a 37-year-old San Francisco resident who married last summer, opted to register for modern dinnerware she could use daily. “China feels outdated,” Ghaffari said, “and difficult to maintain, as it normally has to be hand-washed.” Modernists echo her response: “It takes too much time for busy lifestyles. In short, the dishes of the former generation seem taxing for many people today. ”I wish that was the whole story, but it seems to be a microcosm of other things far more important.

It’s not just the blue garland china and strawberry plates that have been rejected. Church ministries and involvement is also in the mix. Church attendance across denominational lines report that most will attend one service per week and not more than three services in any given month. The Pareto Principle states that about 20% of the congregation will engage in 80% of the work. No one really feels guilty about their lack of effort as we have entered an age of full self-affirmation. Time reading the Bible pales in comparison to time spent on the internet or social media. Prayer is regulated to need-based only. It is not seen as a daily communication with God. And finally, serving others must fit into the framework of emotion of personal satisfaction.

My expression here could be viewed as old fashioned, although the real truth is that I am counter-culture. I believe the most meaningful things in life cannot be held in our hands. I believe our lives and schedules should revolve around worship times, church involvement, and personal devotion to the Lord. I promote giving without a cause, not giving because there is a need. The need is my need to give, because it is more blessed to give than it is to receive (Jesus said that).

Mom never thought it was a struggle to put out the fine china for guests or a special day. We assumed her red glasses and silver spoons meant something. I assume that worship is critical; giving is essential; and sacrifice is part of our reasonable service. My prayer is for us to choose to offer our lives to the Kingdom. It is not too much to go up to Jerusalem. 1 Kings 12:28

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole