While I was growing up in my parents' home, The Punch Bowl always played a prominent part in our social affairs. My mom would tenderly wash it out, put it in a prominent place, frame it with a swag of fresh cut ivy and perhaps a few flowers, fill it with pretty and delicious punch, set the matching punch cups beside it along with the large silver ladle, and assign a very responsible person to serve the sweet beverage from it. I think we probably served punch more than the average family just because we had this huge, gorgeous bowl from which to serve it.
Other people knew about and admired our punch bowl too. When my mom would host a baby or bridal shower with other women, she would often be asked to bring her punch bowl to the church or to someone else's home so it could be used for the shindig. My mom would clean it out (this punch bowl, though treasured, was not a sacred cow and sometimes odds and ends would find their way into the punch bowl for no particular reason - probably thanks to my brother and me more than my parents), wrap it carefully in large, thick towels, and put it gingerly in the back of her car. She'd tote it to the location of the shower, arrange it on the table and serve delicious punch from it. Then she'd clean it out and carry it home to its permanent resting place, at which point I'm sure my dad would breath a sigh of relief. But I also know he was pleased as punch for it to be used. (Aren't I witty?)
We moved several times when I was a kid. We never moved far, mind you. We just zig-zagged back and forth across town a few times while my mom tried to decide exactly where she wanted to live. At any rate, each time we moved that punch bowl was moved like any other piece of furniture or like the television or the washing machine. My parents never looked at it and said, "You know, maybe it's time to just put this thing away. Maybe we should just pack it up and put it in the basement." They always found a place just for the punch bowl because, after all, didn't everyone have a punch bowl in their dining room? And didn't everyone have a table just for the punch bowl? I'm sure they did.
Here's the thing about the punch bowl though. For years I saw my parents display the punch bowl proudly. I watched them take care of it and protect it. I enjoyed the fact that they used it and used it often. I heard the compliments they received on it and watched others admire it. Sometimes we would come across a similar punch bowl at an antique store or flea market and we would look at the price, just out of curiosity. We would walk away feeling even more delighted with our punch bowl. My mom knew great punch recipes and I enjoyed the cool, refreshing beverages should would serve from the bowl on birthdays, at showers, during Christmas, and on New Year's Eve. For a big bowl of cut glass that can only really be used on special occasions, that punch bowl sure did play a big part in our everyday lives. And you know what?
I want that punch bowl.
Unfortunately, I'm told I don't get to have it. I'm told it has to stay in the Winton family so my brother and his wife get the punch bowl. But here, here. Bitterness and envy are not the purpose of this blog post. I'll save that one for another day.
The purpose today is simply to say that because my parents used, cared for, prominently displayed, shared, treasured, and valued that punch bowl, I naturally want it. If they had boxed it up and put it in the attic all those years, I could probably care less about it. We want what we see others use and value, not so much what we know they have but never see or hear about.
And so, as we finish up Senior Adult Tribute week here on Off the Beaten Path, I want to say something to all of you who are senior adults and to all of you who are fast becoming older - that would be all of us.
If you want to pass your faith in Christ on to the next generation, if you want your kids and your grandkids to value your faith and claim it for themselves, then don't hide it away for pete's sake! Put your faith out on a lovely pedestal table, care for it tenderly, protect it at all costs, use it frequently, share it with others, and talk about it glowingly. If you'll check the price tag on your faith occasionally, you'll see it is quite costly and worthy of all the honor you can possibly give it. Don't hide it in the basement of your life or box it up and put it in the attic. Put it out there!
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.
Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before men,
that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
Do your kids know about your faith? Do they treasure it, marvel at it, want it for themselves? What can you and I do to make our faith a little more appealing to the next generation? Maybe we should ladle it up with a refreshing serving of lime sherbet punch! Couldn't hurt!