I love the story of how the “Toy Story 2” concept happened. John Lasseter was in his office at Pixar when one of his sons came by to see him. Now if you have ever seen photos of Lasseter’s office you will know that it is a wonderland for children. If Lasseter was my dad, I’d want to visit his office too.
On this particular visit, Lasseter’s son found a Buzz Lightyear toy he wanted to play with. Not any Buzz Lightyear, but the Buzz Lightyear that everyone wanted for Christmas in 1995 and couldn’t find. It was the first Buzz Lightyear toy. It was a collector’s item and when Lasseter’s son found it, Lasseter immediately told him to put it down because it wasn’t a toy. His son didn’t understand and the incident stuck with Lasseter. When thinking about that day, Lasseter found it ironic that a toy from a movie about how important it is for a toy to be played with was kept from his son so he couldn’t play with it. From this seed grew they plot of “Toy Story 2”.
When I was a student pastor there was a great controversy in the congregation. The Trustees had installed new carpet in the sanctuary and in order to preserve the nice, new carpet had banned various items from the area. No food, no drinks, and no candles. No one thought much of it until Christmas was approaching. As the staff began to plan the Christmas season, we were reminded by the Trustees that there would be no Candlelight Service on Christmas Eve as candles were no allowed in the sanctuary. The church exploded.
People couldn’t believe that the carpet was more important that years of tradition. There were meeting, there were arguments, there were protests. The trustees refused to budge. Christmas Eve service had no candles. A year later it was worse. Trustee meetings descended into yelling and chaos. The second year, the Trustees decided to allow candles with the condition that we use drip less candles, plastic, cup shaped candle holders, and had a group of volunteers committed to coming in to clean up any and all wax on the carpet. We met all their conditions and the service went on. On Christmas Day, I got a call from one of the Trustees that there were three spots of wax on the carpet. He demanded to know when the people who volunteered to clean were going to take care of it. On Christmas Day.
I think of this every time I watch “Toy Story 2”. This idea of the church building being of worth for its own sake rather than for the work that takes place there is similar to the idea that toys are for collecting only. Both undermine the actual purpose of the object in question. Life is messy. Things get broken. You can always tell which toy a child loves the most because it is the one in the worst shape. The same is true of churches. Churches that are serving their function are messy. They have coffee stained carpets, tape on the walls, Cheerios in the book racks, and coloring in the hymnals. They have collections tubs for food banks, clothing banks, and emergenicy relife supplies. There are tubs of crayons, baskets of toys, wheelchairs and walkers. There are pillows in the pews and soft chairs in the open spaces. They feel lived in because they are. Churches are not collectors items, we need to stop treating them as such.
What do you think of “Toy Story 2”? Rate the movie here: