A joyful heart is good medicine—Proverbs 17:22a.
It is that time of year again—the time of year when Presbyterians wander outside, rub their squinty eyes, flex their atrophied muscles, and temporarily lay aside their copies of Calvin’s Institutes to participate in an annual and dangerous event—the church picnic. It has been a long, cold, hard winter in more ways than just the weather, so a picnic, though fraught with many risks, may be just what we need.
In earlier meditations on this subject, I dwelt on the reasons why Presbyterians seem to dislike picnics: fear of the great outdoors, fear of disturbing the social and civic order, and insects.
Today, I want to focus on positive reasons why you should attend our church picnic, which is held next Saturday, June 14, noon–7:00 PM. A picnic is many things to many people, but I want to pay particular attention to two demographics—children and adult men—and show how the picnic can benefit them.
For children, already a fun-loving group, a picnic is like an all-day Reception Hall coffee hour experience with unlimited access to a cornucopia of delights: cookies, cake, donuts, or an endless wow parade of ice cream treats. It is having a long day with your church friends doing whatever you like (well, almost). It can be a day when time seems to stop, but where the possibilities are endless. A picnic has all the joys of summer wrapped up in one day. It is a day for children to declare independence from want and boredom.
Tenth men are a more complicated people group, and the picnic affords them the opportunity to change people’s perspective of them. Tenth men have a reputation for loving the great indoors. They are believed to prefer sitting in the shade discussing the theological intricacies of supralapsarianism to pursuing athletic activities like softball, basketball, volleyball, soccer . . . and barbecuing. So, at this year’s picnic, if you see a man strike out in softball, miss easy layups in basketball, or turn his hamburger into shoe leather on the grill, don’t be too hard on him. At least he is out there trying.
This leads me to my final point. We want you out there—yes, all sizes, shapes, ages, and genders. I have heard the usual litany of excuses: it is too hot, humid, cloudy, cold, wet, or there are too many insects or wildlife, or there is too much pollen, fresh air, etc. I mean really, are you serious? Have we become so absorbed in our smart phones, iPads, or Netflix plans that we have been rendered useless in all outdoor pursuits? May it never be!
We want you to come outdoors next Saturday. Yes, you may feel silly and ungainly, but we have the place all to ourselves so no one will see us. You will be among sympathetic friends and, I don’t want to jinx this, but you may just have a really good time. Register by noon on Wednesday, June 11.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Pat Canavan. © 2024 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org