Thursday, January 20, 2011


The majority of my adult life I have been a moviephile. I love watching movies and engaging in their story. I especially love it when movies explore issues of spirituality and challenge me in my thinking. As I have grown older, and hopefully more mature, I have begun to appreciate documentaries more as well. I am assuming that around the time that the switch gets clicked where parents begin to look smart is around the same time that documentaries begin to offer some appeal.

After finishing some of my schoolwork for this week and next, I watched a documentary called “Barberland” about the barber profession. In my lifetime, I have known two barbers personally. One was the father of an elementary school friend and the other was a church member in my former church. Thinking back on them both now, they seemed to have been cut from the same mold: both gentle, kind, warm, compassionate, and easy to talk to.

The film was fascinating as it highlighted barbers in the United States from coast to coast. Interestingly enough, a number of the barbers were from San Francisco. Not sure what it is about San Francisco, but their barbers were not afraid to talk on camera. Many of them told their stories, how they came to become barbers, what they liked about the profession, whether or not they would ever retire, and various other things. The turning point for many of them in the barbering world was when the Beatles came on the scene in the 60’s. From that point forward, they needed to adapt to a changing society. Flat tops and crew cuts became passé and “Beatles cuts” became standard.

The barbers talked about how they loved what they did, they loved their customers, and they didn’t feel that they were simply customers, but family as well. They see their jobs as low-stress. A number of them highlighted a statistic that said that among professions with the longest life spans, barbering was among the highest. They love what they do and as someone once told me, “Find a job that you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Towards the end of the film, many of the barbers expressed their opinion that barbering is a dying profession. They encounter barbers in their 40’s and 50’s and older, but there are no barbers in their 20’s and 30’s. As I heard that statistic, I wondered to myself whether or not any of them had seen the movie “Barbershop” or “Barbershop 2” with Ice Cube and Cedric the Entertainer. While they are fictitious movies, the majority of the barbers portrayed within the film were in their 20’s and 30’s.

It seems that barbering is headed in the direction that so many things go in our fast-paced society. It may be destined for distinction. That concept keeps emerging in my life lately as I look around. After spending some time on the phone speaking with someone in a similar predicament, I recalled “The Shawshank Redemption” and the character of Brooks. Here was a man who had been behind bars the majority of his adult life and when he was finally released from prison, the world outside the bars had not stopped. He was ill-prepared to meet that world and was unable to face it and cope.

Change is hard. While I do know some “change junkies” in my life, they are the exception more than the rule. More often I encounter people who loathe change and while they may not say it this succinctly, they fear it. The world changes and they want nothing more than to find stability somewhere. Ironically, this attitude continues within the Church as well. I say ironically, because as followers of Jesus, change is who we are.

Transformation has become a buzz word within the Church. We are called to be transformed by the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:1-2. Many books on preaching emphasize that preaching can be informative or transformative.

Jesus was all about the “new.” He came to make all things new. In Luke 5, Jesus speaks these words in verses 36-39, “He told them this parable: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’” This passage is sandwiched in Luke between accounts of Jesus challenging the “norm” of the day. All of the laws that had been held to were being challenged. Jesus was changing everything.

And that’s how it should be when we encounter him too, everything should change. We are no longer the same, everything is different. I’m reminded of a song by Jason Gray called “I Am New” of which the lyrics of the chorus are, “I am not who I was, I am being remade, I am new. I am chosen and holy and I’m dearly loved, I am new.” Jesus came to make all things new, that includes us.

So, the question is, will we be open to the transformation? Will we be destined for distinction because of a refusal to change or will we be open to the change that God has to do in us?

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