Mother of Invention

Necessity is the Mother of Invention.

In attempting to research this idiom, I discovered that it isn’t a terribly attributable quote. But it’s the phrase that has been lodged in my head throughout Holy Week as I steep in the scriptures retelling the Passion of Jesus. It occurs to me that one of the things Jesus was doing was inventing something new. Given his cultural context, the oppression of his people by the Romans, and the intersection of his religious context, the rabbinical movement in contrast with the temple teachings, he was compelled to find a new way. It was clear to him that God called him to innovate by articulating a new way to be in relationship with God.

Having focused on themes of creativity during Lent, the Formation and Vocation Ministries Team is shifting to innovation as the theme for the Great Fifty Days of Easter. Creativity leads to innovation. Necessity is often the catalyst for applied creativity; innovation. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines innovation two ways:

  1. the introduction of something new
  2. a new idea, method, or device :novelty

As a member of a mainline, protestant Christian tradition experiencing precipitous decline, I am feeling the need to be creative, to invent. It is clear to this Episcopal youth minister that my generation (Baby Boomer by some metrics, Gen-Exer by others) has not taken seriously the Baptismal promise to “continue in the apostles’ teaching” all that effectively. So I pay careful attention to what captures the imagination of young and old at the same time in order to seize that opportunity when gaps are bridged and evangelism takes place. The folks at Forward Movement have been innovating lately. Have you heard?

Mary Magdalene won the Golden Halo at Lent Madness this year. And several generations of Christians learned all kinds of things about saints and themselves as we logged in each day to read about the brackets that pitted Holy Women and Men against one another in a parody of the March Madness of basketball tournaments. Thousands of people voted. Some people cheated and saints were penalized. People used Facebook and Twitter and email to coerce their peers into voting for their favored saint. Close contests caused some to read more and even wish they could change their votes once something new was revealed. Celebrity bloggers took the opportunity to not only educate us about these fascinating Christians who have inspired us, and some have even died for our cause, but have also helped us to see the humor in our piety. They allowed us to claim passion in naming our preferences.

The innovative part of this scheme took something old and made it new through story, in style of the telling and access using the internet. Lent Madness is brilliant and I am grateful to the Supreme Executive Committee for sharing this frivolity during Lent.

Where does your playful spirit intersect with your knowledge and/or your yearning to learn? How might you creatively bridge a generation gap, or a knowledge gap, or an action gap to accomplish a new thing for the cause of Christianity?

The church is in decline and we haven’t much time. Necessity is the Mother of Invention. We need to be innovative evangelists. It’s time to proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ!



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