Monday, July 12, 2010

Vermont, Family, Community, & the Body of Christ

I've already rambled about our camp on Lake Champlain before and my love for the place, family, and time that I find there.  We just got back from a week or so up there.  The first several days we were with other extended family, and then we were alone as a family of six for about two days.  I wish I could say that I feel rested (like you're "supposed" to after a vacation), but the fact is that in this season of life (=four younguns), it's more about creating memories than it is about rest.  Regardless...we had a great time and I daresay were quite successful in the creation of memories.

I like to talk about community quite a bit, as you know (though I rarely use that actual word anymore).  I can't call my extended family a community because we are apart far more often than not, but there are some incredible aspects of my family that portray my understanding of the ideal community that I know from no other experience, group, church, etc. in my life.  I was reflecting yet again on this:

My extended family who gathers at the camp is extremely different from person to person.  For sure, we all share the same blood and heritage (although...there are a number of children adopted by my grandparents who share not the blood...but I suppose that only feeds my forthcoming point).  We come from the same family tree.  Yet today...we are all quite different, even in the "ever-important" things of faith.  Some in my extended family are atheistic or agnostic.  Others are rather deistic (God exists, but isn't really in the picture anymore).  Others are rather evangelical.  Others are recovering evangelicals (raised hand here).  Still others...well I'm not completely sure about everyone.

The differences continue: some of us are politically conservative, others almost as liberal as you can get and still be called American (don't assume that these lines are drawn in the same places as the faith understandings above - they're not).  Still others are politically confused and perhaps what I might call politically agnostic (raised hand here).  Some of us drink alcohol.  Others abstain (raised hand here).  Some of us are rather patriotic and even militaristic, one even having served in Iraq.  Others don't think we should be there.  Still others are rather pacifistic (raised hand here).  Some of us eat meat (and a lot of it).  Others are vegetarian.  Still others are vegan.

There are some rather "important" similarities among us all: love of the Boston Red Sox, fishing, and the couple that was and is Stephen and Christine Nease.

As you can see, in list-form, the differences outnumber the similarities.  But somehow...the similarities carry enough weight to keep bringing us together.  For sure, I imagine that with Grandma & Grandpa now dead and the years since their deaths now growing in number, we will be together less and less as time goes by.  And also for sure...we know of our differences.  Sometimes we"discuss" them.  Lots of the time, we don't and we just let the similarities rule.

I wish the Body of Christ could do this better.  We're so good at knowing who's who by identifying our differences.  And we're even "better" at letting the differences rule.  It makes me very, very sad, is extremely unbiblical, unlike Christ, and not of the Kingdom of God.  The things of God and faith surely separate.   And in my own faith journey, will separate in some kind of way for good sometime down the road.  But that separation ("judgment") is not of our own doing...but of God's.  We need not serve as judge right now.

I know that some immediate problems arise with this for many:
Some will call me a universalist.  You need to read again what I'm saying.  Although...I have little problem with being a universalist when it comes to how we respond to others in love.  We should let our actions separate...not our words.  As for eternity, I need to learn to be comfortable with leaving that to God.

Others will accuse me of being "yoked together" with unbelievers.  No I'm not.  I'm no more yoked to unbelievers than Jesus was to prostitutes.  You do know what a yoke is, right?  It's that thing that makes you do something with another (two oxen yoked together must go in the same direction).  We need not participate in the things that those we are with do any more than Jesus poked the prostitutes he hung out with.  Holy huddling is anything but.

But what about speaking prophetically into peoples' lives?  I affirm that there is a time and place for this. But a look at scripture shows that the vast majority of prophetic speaking is limited to the person of God (prophet) warning the people of God (exceptions exist: Jonah and Ninevah, Abraham and Sodom-Gomorrah).

I have a lot more to say about this...but it's already too long and rambled.  Perhaps more later...

My mother did a good job of capturing a few moments from our time together in Vermont that though short, does a good job of showing what it's often like up there.  There were many missing (actually...if everyone who "owns" this camp were up there at the same time, it would be rather crowded).  But this is what's rather normal for us while at the Lake.  (By the way, be sure to take note of my never-been-Boy-Scouts-trained camp fire...I fully affirm any accusations of pyromania.)

(I'm currently eating cream of wheat with Vermont maple syrup on top.  While we were up there, I asked on Facebook of my Vermont-resident friends where the cheapest syrup is these days.  Some people (who aren't Vermont residents) responded and told me to get it at Ocean State Job Lot (discount store) or other non-Vermont locations.  Uh...NO!  :-)  I don't care if the stuff actually came from the same tree and some how got shipped to separate locations...I will always buy it in Vermont.  We ended up finding this nice older gentleman (Mr. Gillespie) at the end of a dirt road in Waterville who sold us two quarts for $20.  And it tastes really good.)

1 comment:

  1. Wish I could've been there this year! My favorite of the similarities I share with my cousins and extendeds is our great capacity to love. (Please tell your kids to stop growing, it's making me feel old...)