The Walgreens Prayer

320px-walgreens_store

I pray a lot.

That is not a statement about my personal piety, but more about my function as a pastor.

It seems that I will be tasked with opening a meeting with prayer, or closing it.

Or both.

Some days I’ll pray 9 or 10 times for this gathering or that event.

And I don’t mind.  I kind of like it, actually.

Usually I’ll thank God for gathering us and being with us.  I’ll pray for our community.  I’ll ask God to guide us as we move from here.

That kind of stuff.

Recently, a certain phrase began creeping up in my prayers.  “May we be happy and healthy…”

“Keep us all in your Good Graces Lord, and may we be happy and healthy until we gather together again.”

That kind of thing.

That’s a nice sentiment, right?  One day I just started using it, wondering how those particular words had come to me.

Last week, I found out.

There it was, staring up at me from the prescription bag I held in my hands:

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Good Lord.

Had I been praying the slogan of a pharmacy???

Was that even legal?

I’m convinced that the Walgreen’s slogan had seeped into my subconscious and made its way into my prayers.

My main questions was this:  Does Walgreens have a corner ON Happy & Healthy?

I mean, isn’t that what the church is offering, too?  We want people to be happy, to find joy in their lives, to know Christ in a life-changing way.  And we want people to be healthy, too.  To care for their bodies, minds, and spirits.

I guess it just surprised me that a pharmacy’s mission was so similar to our church’s.  But I soon realized that while Walgreens offers a certain level of happiness and health, it is the church that helps people dig deeper, developing their faith, discovering Christ, leading New Lives.

So, I’ve decided to allow myself to use that phrase whenever it pops into a prayer.  I’m not breaking a trademark (am I?) and I’m speaking to something real and deep in our Christian experience.

And if the store gets a little more business, well good on them.

We’re not in competition with Walgreens.

We just happen to be set up…

on the same corner.

Have a great week,

Mitch

happy-and-healthy

Have a Church and a Smile

Our Communications Team is looking for a new slogan for our church.  Something we can put on t-shirts and hats, something that gives people a glimpse of why church is important.   Here are a few I dug up.  See what you think:

  • “The Closest Thing To Home”
  • “Enjoy Life”
  • Church “is your kind of place”
  • “Where there’s <church> there’s hospitality”
  • “I’m lovin’ it”

You might not have recognized the first four, but I bet that last one rang a bell.   These are all slogans from McDonalds or Coca Cola from the past 100 years!

As I sat around the table at the Communications meeting last night, it dawned on me that McDonalds and Coke have stolen all the good church slogans.  “We Love To See You Smile”, “Coke adds life”,  “You deserve a break today”, “It’s the Real Thing”.   I could go on and on. So what’s the deal?  When Christians come up with slogans for their churches, are they “selling out” and acting like advertising companies?

I don’t think so.  Not at all.  In fact, the opposite is true.  Remember that great song “I’d like to Teach the World To Sing?” The first time I heard that was in church.  It wasn’t until years later that I found out it was a jingle for Coke.   What Coca Cola had done was to take all the feelings, importance, and meaning of a world in perfect harmony, and then attach them to a product — Coke!  When you see a car commercial on TV with the slogan “DRIVE = LOVE”, that’s somebody’s attempt to make you think that an automobile can make you feel love.

But that’s not true!  God is the source of Love.  We’ve been telling people that for millennia! God is the reason for hospitality and why the whole world will one day sing in harmony.  The reason churches do marketing is because we want to help people connect with the real “Real Thing”.  It’s not a misrepresentation, and it’s not a manipulation.  After all, “God” really does = “Love”.  

So we’ll keep working, looking for a few choice words that speak to what it feels like to be part of our church.   In the meantime, allow the words of this devotion to invite you to visit us for church this Sunday.

An added bonus?  This week we’re having communion!  Or as I like to call it…

Happy Meal.

Have a great week,

Mitch