IC Light: A Beer and a Church

I grew up in a little town near Pittsburgh, PA. We had a house-top antenna for our TV, so we didn’t get many channels. In fact, we only got two on a regular basis. (Occasionally, we got one or two extra stations, but only when the atmosphere was perfect. Even then the channels were so snowy, it was hard to tell the players without a program—if you know what I mean.) PIRATES-IC-LICGHT-IRON-CITY-RETRO-CANS-BRANDMILL

There were no remotes or DVRs, so I saw a lot of TV ads in those days. For much of my life, I watched Iron City Beer commercials during Pirate games. When the Miller Brewing Company introduced light beer, Iron City came out with one as well. It quickly became known as IC Light. To this day, the name IC Light resounds in my mind’s ear. If I’m not mistaken, it’s still around. I moved to Virginia many years ago, but I can still hear those commercials in my head.

IC Light has taken on a new meaning for me in recent years, however. When I hear the term, I still think of the beer. Yet along with that memory, I now also think of the church.

The IC has spawned a new attitude.

Of late, many people have given up on us (the church, that is). They feel like we have become irrelevant, passé, or ineffective. Numerous folks with that opinion have begun to call us the Institutional Church. While that’s hardly a new term, it has taken on a new meaning. Or maybe I should say, it’s now spoken with a new attitude—a negative one. The term, Institutional Church (IC for short), has become a derisive term used by those who have fled the traditional church trappings.

Since I’ve been a Methodist most of my life, I can relate to a derisive name. John Wesley adopted the name, Methodist, to spite people who used it to mock him and his followers. We’ve been Methodists of various stripes ever since.

IC-LightI don’t think I like being called the IC as much as he liked being called a Methodist. I’m not sure why, but I think it has something to do with the fact that those who have fled our institution really have a point. In fact, they have several points—most of which are valid. And while I wish they were still around helping us to get better, I understand why they left.

In many instances, we have become a much lighter version of our former selves (thus the IC Light moniker). It’s not simply that we have fewer people (although that is often the case). It’s more that we’ve let a lot of people down. We’ve often abdicated the throne, so to speak. We’ve strayed from our Biblical moorings that always showed us what it meant to be the church.

It’s going to be a struggle to get back to what we were meant to be. Brewing beer would be a lot easier. (To be continued…)

What Size is Your Grave?

It’s rather amazing to ponder the things that become really important to us. Just sit around with a bunch of adults sometime and start a conversation about some high and lofty topic. Nine times out of ten, it will dwindle to some lesser subject (frequently, far lesser). On occasion, the speed with which the conversation devolves is almost startling.DSC_0034

We can begin talking about something like Jesus’ relationship with the Pharisees or the meaning of prayer. The next thing we know, we’re jawboning about yesterday’s basketball game. It’s not that yesterday’s ballgame is unimportant…well, it kind of is.

What I’m trying to say is, in the grand scheme of things, we dwell on a lot of stuff that should be consigned to happenstance, hobbies, and interests. Those things are part of our lives, certainly. Yet they shouldn’t hold the foremost significance in our thinking. Some things take such prominence in our lives that they relegate really important things to the background.

“I’m no different than anyone else”

If you broach the subject of baseball, I’m right there with you (no matter what else we were talking about). It’s almost scary how quickly I can switch gears to head into the finer points of the rules of the game. Pretty important, huh?

For you, it might not be baseball. It may be some other sport. Or it could be politics, architecture, status, fitness, style, finances, government, education, diet, or pets. The list goes on and on. These things are all part of our lives. We need to address them to be sure. To be consumed by them, however, is unhealthy.

I suppose we do this for any number of reasons. Sometimes it’s because we just don’t want to talk about any weighty subjects. We just want small talk. We don’t want the pressure of being responsible for spiritual matters.SameSizedGrave

Many times, I’m sure it’s because we’re selfish and protective of what we have. We’re somebody because we have nice clothes. We’re important because of our position on the job. We matter because of who we know in life or what neighborhood we live in. Therefore, we prefer speaking about those things.

I recently ran across a quote that said, “No matter how big your house is, how recent your car is, how big your bank account is, our graves will be the same size. Stay humble.” Death is the great equalizer, is it not?

“How long are you going to live?”

Each of us will live for a while—fifty, seventy-five, or maybe one hundred years. Then, no matter how many toys we’ve collected along the way, we end up assuming room temperature.

The best way I know to stay humble—to maintain a reasonable perspective on life and love—is to pursue the loftier things. The latest smash hit TV series might be a good distraction. We all need a good diversion or two. Let’s just not make our diversions our main things in life. They’re not going to increase the size of our graves.

Motorcycle Dreams

Dave Zuchelli will be the guest preacher this Sunday evening (April 3) at the Manassas Biker Church. The title of his sermon is “Motorcycle Dreams” based on Joel 2:23-29.

CrossTankThe gathering will begin at 6pm with a potluck supper followed by worship. The church is located at 7223 Nathan Court in Manassas, VA. Zuchelli will also be signing  his first book, The Last Wedding, following the service.

The Manassas Biker Church is an outreach of the Brothers in Christ Motorcycle Ministry. It is non-denominational, and the public is invited and welcome to attend.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, an author, blogger, and speaker. He is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA where he as served for the past twenty-one years.]