by David Sisler

Having searched through a dozen states, three foreign countries, and countless stores, I am convinced--I own the world's last piece of green Hubba Bubba bubble gum.

When I was in Moscow in July, I thought I had found another pack, but instead of mint green, it was green apple.

I don't know how I happen to have the last known piece of green Hubba Bubba. I just dropped it into my desk ten or twelve years ago and forgot about it. Several times I almost chewed it, but for one reason or another, I never did. Now it's almost sacred.

Each time I open my desk drawer, there it is--the last piece of green Hubba Bubba.

Occasionally, one of my children will ask, "Dad, when are you going to chew that piece of Hubba Bubba?"

"Probably never," I reply.

"Why do you keep it?" they ask.

"Never know when it may be worth something," I answer. Many things are like the last piece of green Hubba Bubba. Without explanation, they require a significance all of their own. There is no rhyme nor reason, but they assume an almost sacred status.

We do that in church. A lot!

During the early years of my ministry, we boasted that our services were "open to the Lord's direction." We would abide no printed order of service. God could not have His way if we announced the hymns in advance. That tradition became green Hubba Bubba.

I remember the first Sunday night in a new assignment. I thought we had a great time of worship. All of the signs of a religious celebration were evident. I patted myself on the back.

The members of the church board waited for me after the service. No doubt to congratulate me, I thought. No doubt to tell me how glad they were I had come to be their pastor, I thought. No doubt to tell me that I was the best preacher they had ever heard, I thought.


It seems that on Sunday night Sister Susie always leads the singing. Brother George always takes the testimonies and prayer requests. And Sister Grace never sings a special song. Amazing!

Someone missed the whole point of the evening. I thought it was to worship God and lift up His Son. Evidently I was wrong.

A minister tells of pulling a U-Haul up to the parsonage at a new church. He was greeted by a question regarding the holding of church suppers inside the church building.

Moments later he overheard one member of his new flock telephone another member of the congregation and boast, "The new preacher agrees with us. You'll have to leave!" Green Hubba Bubba.

I remember one denominational leader who asserted that our denominational traditions should be honored as biblical since they had served the church so well for so long. The same denominational head was once heard to ridicule another branch of Christianity because they kept sacred relics in their churches.

"Probably enough pieces of the cross under their altars to rebuild Rome," he scoffed.

Those of us listening nodded in agreement. They were, after all, a very rigid group, bound by their traditions, sacraments, orders of service, and dogma. Not like us.

I cut my spiritual teeth on the King James Version of the Bible. There are many scripture passages that when I quote them, I always quote the KJV. But some people mistake the words "authorized version" to mean that God authorized that version. They dismiss any other version as spurious or worse.

Someday I'd like to introduce those critics to Cathy Sisler, my brother's wife. She made a life-time commitment to Jesus Christ after reading the story of salvation from the Living Bible.

In this modern day of singing praise choruses, I sometimes miss the old hymns of the church. But some folks criticize and label as almost demonic any music other than the hymns written by the Wesley brothers or Fanny Crosby.

Kyle and Cathy's son, Jason, received Jesus Christ as His Lord and Savior at a "Petra" concert. That Christian rock band, and almost all popular Christian music, is dismissed or damned by some who forget that Jesus didn't sing either Wesley or Crosby.

Green Hubba Bubba.

Things repeated over the years assume a status of incontrovertible correctness. "We never did it that way before" becomes the rallying cry of many congregations--maybe the "seven last words" of the church. That's when something that may once have been a beautiful part of the life and worship of the church becomes green Hubba Bubba.

Come to think of it, I don't have the last piece of green Hubba Bubba in existence. There's a lot of it around. And it is all the same. Stale. Hard. Dried up. Tasteless. Useless. We would be better off if we threw it all away and tried something fresh. Like the grace and love and compassion and forgiveness of God.

Published in the Augusta Chronicle 12/30/95

Copyright 1995 by David Sisler

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