Gonna take a Sentimental Journey,
Gonna set my heart at ease.
Gonna make a Sentimental Journey,
to renew old memories.
We call ourselves a Christian nation but what many of us mean is that we have family and cultural affection for church-related traditions. Many – if not most – of our church conflicts are about sentimentalism rather than theology or spiritual disciplines. At least that’s been my experience:
- The discussion about moving a painting donated by a family years ago from the church library to the . . . um . . . basement because 1) it scared people and 2) had no theological connection to anything (it was the portrait of a family relative with no connection to the church)
- The discussion about using a new tune for the Gloria Patri which included comments like, “This is how we’ve always sung the Gloria” or “I want my children to learn it exactly how I learned it.”
- The discussion about no longer continuing the Fall Fun Fair because 1) it was too expensive and we didn’t have enough volunteers and 2) it was not the transformational event we were hoping to offer for the community. But some people were very upset because “We’ve always done The Fall Fun Fair” and “Our family’s whole Columbus Day weekend has always been about the Fall Fun Fair.“
See a pattern here?
“What I want”
“What I’m used to”
“What makes me comfortable”
These are the themes of sentimentalism, which bloom and grow in many established institutions. And churches are supposed to be communities of worship and mission and discipleship. Imagine if congregations spent all their time on a missional journey rather than a sentimental one.
Image of Doris Day whose first hit recording was Sentimental Journey in 1945.