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Pastor Glenn McDonald: Doing a New Thing

People resist change. Even when it comes to the simplest things.


In 1990, Crayola decided to retire eight colors from its iconic box of 64 crayons. 


In their place, the world’s largest crayon manufacturer introduced eight new vibrant colors, including Royal Purple, Jungle Green, and Hot Pink.


This seemed to be nothing but good news. Children (Crayola’s primary audience) loved the new colors. It didn’t seem likely anyone would miss the departing hues. Kids in the Midwest could surely find a substitute for Maize when coloring pictures of cornfields. 


But Crayola was taking no chances. 


They actually held a press conference at their corporate headquarters in eastern Pennsylvania to announce the honorable retirement of the eight crayons. Giant facsimiles of each has-been were solemnly carried to a display case called the Crayola Hall of Fame.


Children mostly shrugged. But some of their parents, nostalgic for their own childhoods, went ballistic.


How could Crayola abandon Orange Red? And what about Lemon Yellow? An action group called RUMP actually came together to save Raw Umber, waving placards in the parking lot during the press conference.


In the end, Crayola caved.


The eight crayons that had seemingly departed this world were resurrected as Crayola Collector’s Colors. Baby Boomers everywhere heaved a sigh of relief.


The amazing thing is that Crayola had been swapping out colors for years, but hadn’t called much attention to it. But when people were told, straight up, “Something is changing here,” all the classic fears and resistances kicked in.


It’s worth noting that Crayola has taken a different approach to the transformation of its inventory over the past 30-plus years.


Why not invite potential customers to participate in the design and introduction of new crayons?


Focus groups have helped revolutionize Crayola’s colors, styles, and names. The company now boasts 170 shades in active production. 


It’s easy to tell that kids had a hand in choosing some of the new names: Alien Armpit, Big Foot Feet, Macaroni & Cheese, Fuzzy Wuzzy, Razzmatazz, Wash the Dog, Smashed Pumpkin, Atomic Tangerine, and my favorite, Booger Buster – although I’m a little hesitant to find out exactly what color that might be.


All of us are called to respond to change in healthy ways. God, after all, is in the change business. 


“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up. Do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:19). Paul makes this bold statement in the New Testament: “If anyone is in Christ, behold, a new creation!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). 


Growth requires change. And change involves risk. And risk generates some measure of fear.


That’s always going to be true, whether we’re contemplating a new way to pray, fresh motivation to serve the poor, or a bold new commitment to rely on God’s faithfulness instead of our own best efforts.


Our call is not to fear what is new and different. There’s no need to tremble that tomorrow will look different from today. 


God is Lord of both today and tomorrow. And God is not going to change. 


Which is why we also don’t have to be afraid, every now and then, to color outside the lines.

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