I've just finished a week at the beach with mi familia - the whole familia - children, parents, sister, nieces, nephews... This is the same beach I grew up going to in the summer, though Hugo's redesign in 1989 has modernized the front row considerably. My beach memories are of brown paneled walls, mismatched furniture that didn't mind wet bathing suits, NO TV, NO PHONE, NO A/C - seriously, no A/C, sleeping with the windows open to catch the ocean breeze, fried seafood, playing cards, Yahtzee, Pachesi, Clue, and Monopoly, hunting sand crabs at night with a flashlight, nightly trips to the ice cream shop, the amusement park or Putt-Putt, and LOTS of reading. Beach trips have changed - nobody fries fish and hushpuppies for dinner, we haven't ridden a single rollercoaster, the kids watch too many movies and the sand crabs are safe. This is not a judgment on "kids these days" or even a romanticized version of "back when I was a kid". It's just a recognition that our beach trip is different now.
Different, yet the essentials remain the same. The ocean hasn't changed, the tides still come in and go out 2ce a day, beach breezes are the best, the oyster beds in the creek smell the same, and life is unhurried.
Downtown Church doesn't look like the church I grew up in. There's no steeple, or choir, no Sunday school teachers with bad bouffants, the pastor doesn't even wear a robe. But the essentials remain the same - just one essential really - the gospel of forgiveness and grace through Jesus Christ.
I'm kind of a fan of having my computer and cell phone at the beach. I definitely think A/C beats box fans on a breeze free night. And I love the shared experience of movie nights with the whole family. Different, but great.
And I like a church that's as at home in an art museum as it is in a sanctuary. A church that asks you to be who you are and do what you do. Different, but great.