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Mister In-Between

In the repertoire of songs that pop into my mind unbidden is a jazzy little number called Accentuate the Positive.  It’s been recorded many times, but my favorite is the 1944 original by Johnny Mercer.   My favorite lyric is the one my mother sang whenever we kids were cranky or upset:  “You’ve got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative, don’t mess with Mister In-Between.”

The song made me happy and, as a child already wary of the Bogey Man in the stair well, the admonition to not mess with this invisible Mister In-Between made complete sense.

As I became a teen and young adult, I became aware that Mr. In-Between goes by other names.  The vast territory between positive and negative could be considered “neutral” or “indifferent” or, at its worst, “apathetic.”  In time, I observed that whenever I dwelled in these in-between states, life lost a little bit of its lustre and a lot of hope.  I decided back then that it’s hard to see the future when you look at life through the rather grey lens of Mr. In-Between.

I recently read that Johnny Mercer was inspired to write his song after hearing the infamous Father Divine preach a sermon extolling the virtues of positive thinking.  Father Divine was undoubtedly influenced by the Bible which also advises us to “latch onto the affirmative”.  As it says in Philippians 4:8, “. . .whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

As we begin our year-long Strategic Planning process this month, I invite you to reflect on the good, the bad, and the in-between about Eden Church.  Spend some time thinking and writing about what you love and what you’d like to change.  Then come to our all-church retreat on Oct 24 prepared to accentuate the positive, talk about our strengths, and keep us far from Mr. In-Between.  After all, the future will be built not on who we are now, but who we want to be – to each other, to our community, and to God.

~Pepper Swanson