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home : columnists : columnists August 23, 2017

Trains and the Churches

By Teri Ditslear
Joy in the Journey

I remember riding the fair train twice in 40 years, from Fishers to Indy. I remember riding the train one time from the Transportation Museum to the bottom of the hill at Forest Park, with my young kids. I remember looking at the Transportation museum through the fence as I traveled through the park, by foot or car. All of these memories are good and nostalgic memories. The train for me equaled a moment in time. Like time that had stopped, reminiscent of days when life was easier, or was it? I was always fond of the "Box Car Kids" book series, and of course I loved the Polar Express. I remember living very close to the rails and hearing not only the rumbles and the whistle, but also the window panes in my bedroom rattle and shake. I have fond memories of the trains.

They say that nostalgia is a killer of good ideas, progress even. No one really likes change. We get so comfortable in our comfortableness. We all long for the good 'ol days. We remember sitting down to Sunday dinner, as a family, after church, when politics didn't seem so profane and when women dressed in heels to make casseroles, never daring to have an untidy house or stained clothing. Mom stayed home and did not work. We remember when people were kinder and gentler, people could carry on a conversation and disagree with each other and yet respect one another. What matters to one person, is not always the same that matter to another, especially generationally.

In a church, tradition and culture and nostalgia are all good, until they are not. We churchy type people love to cling to the idea of a program, real church music, and musty buildings, which suck the money right out of good church members pockets or the rainy day fund. Why is church attendance down, and why is it the minority that attends church, and why is the church dying? One culprit is nostalgia and tradition, which can over shadow love and common sense; but that is just one of the many reasons. Recently, Roots of Life hung a banner in our fellowship area that read Love > Hate, Greed, Self, Rudeness, Evil, and even History and Tradition, among other things; and yep eyebrows rose. At Roots of Life, we try to let go of the traditions that hold us captive to selfishness, idolatry and nearsightedness. It is not easy, the older generation cling to the memories of chanting, incense, 'high church' liturgy, it brings comfort and peace. While the younger families crave for simple, real, liturgy, they also crave leaders with guts and the ability to change when change is best for the future, and the now. Being a leader is hard, because there will always be people who feel hurt, left out, and unheard.

When all the conversation started happening around, "Save the Train," it just reminds me of people trying to cling to the past no matter the cost, with little concern about the future. It seems that we have a great opportunity to have a trail that is accessible to more people than the train was accessible. Besides that we get the best of both worlds....The track & train will still go North, from Noblesville! We will always have the opportunity to tell stories about riding the train, and keep memories alive. But I think more importantly, is how would a new trail impact families today and into the future? I can see fitness and health increasing across generational lines. Also, I see potential to increase our art in public spaces, possibly creating an art trail for Hamilton County. Maybe destination coffee shops or boutique type restaurants will be great meeting places for conversation to happen, in real time. In the church, in our culture, and all over our God given spaces, maybe the best thing to do is to remember the lessons learned from the past, and then be motivated to make new memories with the people in our lives today, during this present time After all, today is more important than yesterday, but not as important as tomorrow.

Noblesville's Teri Ditslear is a pastor whose column appears Saturdays in The Times. Contact her at pastor@rolcommunity.com, on Facebook or at www.rolcommunity.com

Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, June 2, 2017
Article comment by: Stephanie Eads

It's awfully clear that this article was written in support of her husband's political agenda, which is not the purpose of this "faith-based" column.

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