Recently I observed John Simmons drinking what seemed to be a refreshing beverage. I asked what it was and he replied that it was peach tea. He thought I might like it so he gave me a packet of powder. I mixed the contents in my next bottle of water. It should not have been a surprise when I did not like the taste. After all, I am the rare southerner who doesn't like iced tea. I know, it is almost unbelievable that one reared in the Deep South doesn't like iced.
I have tried to develop a taste for the official drink of the South but I have been unable. I like peaches so I thought maybe I just needed to give it a try. After one gulp and several sips later I gave up. The taste was very unpleasant.
As I poured out the bottle of peach tea I thought to myself, it's hard to improve on water. Good water has been flavored and colored. Filtered and sweetened. It has been given fizz and sparkle. But it's hard to improve on plain old cold water for refreshment.
I know there are things that can be improved. When I watch the Atlanta Braves games on television there is a much better quality picture on the high definition channels than what we used to get. The noise cancelling headphones that I purchased for long flights are definitely an improvement over the little earphones that the airlines provide. My automobile is much quieter and more comfortable that my first car--a green and white 1953 Chevrolet Bel Air that cost $250.
The sound systems in some churches are far advanced from the microphone and speakers I remember from years ago and they greatly boost the quality of the worship experience. Automatic ice makers are much better than the ice trays I remember filling and putting in the freezer. I love the digital cameras that allow me to take lots of pictures, edit them, and then select the ones I want to keep or share--and all without the cost of film or processing. What an improvement.
Many of the ministries of the Church have taken new and different directions in recent years. I hear folks talking about traditional, blended, and contemporary worship services. Evangelism has been affected by our culture of diversity and the proliferation of gated communities, apartment complexes, and the anonymity that many residents seek.
The United Methodist Children's Home was founded 139 years ago to care for children orphaned during the Civil War. It continues to provide valuable services but the mission has been expanded to include residential groups, foster care, and adoption services. All of this is intended to "provide redemptive, healing services that bring meaningful change to the lives of children and families."
Current social justice ministries are far more than the food pantry and clothes closet traditionally offered by the Christian community. Transitional housing, residential addiction treatment, safe houses for victims of domestic violence, education, and job training are among the varied ways Action Ministries and local churches reach out to people in practical efforts to meet their needs. Aldersgate Homes and Collinswood offer ministries that demonstrate new attitudes toward physically and mentally disabled persons.
There is no question, some things can be improved. But some things just need to be valued and left alone. God grant us wisdom to see what needs to be changed to accomplish worthy goals and the sensitivity (and sensibility) to leave things alone that don't need fixing.
[Taken with permission from "Monday Morning in North Georgia," August 16, 2010. North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.]