Most of my travel these days involves long drives back and forth between Oklahoma City and Burleson. However, today I had the chance to fly down for a brief trip to New Orleans (landed at 8:40 this morning, heading home at 3:30). I performed a wedding for a young couple that I've known since we lived here and I was honored when they asked me to play a role in the sacred act of covenanting with one another in this way. Eating at The House of Blues was nice too...
Congratulations Jeffrey and Ashley LeBlanc, I pray (and believe) that you are entering into a lifetime of dwelling together with God.
Now I'm sitting in the airport terminal and for the first time in what seems like years, I have a few minutes to stop moving - which for me always means that my little brain has a chance to reengage momentarily.
A while back I posted a short story about a time that Conner helped Rachel and I think through the value of not marrying your sister...I know, sounds weird, but read about it here before you throw up in your mouth.
I realized through that exchange with my perceptive little six year-old that what is true in our families in marriage is also true for the church - we are meant to grow by grafting new people into our family tree rather than just being content to go from generation to generation with the same folks to whom we were already related.
We’ve had some experiences lately that have been bringing me back to that conversation. Over the last nine months or so, Rachel and I have been blessed to grow closer to the Chappotins through a deeper commitment to community born out of time of darkness and shared struggle (you may hear us refer to an experience such as this as "communitas"...which we have shamelessly stolen from Alan Hirsch). We’ve shared some intensive readings, periods of discernment, regular meals and missional excursions into our neighborhood. Its been great.
Recently Rachel and I began a similar process of scripture reading and discernment with my brother Adam and his wife Caroline. Each day we each read and meditate on a short passage of scripture (drawing on Eugene Peterson’s devotional guide, Solo) and then as we are struck with different realizations we send them around to everyone via email, face-to-face and phone conversations. This was one of the more powerful community building experiences that we’ve been through with Chris and Heidi, and I have to admit, I think its having a similar effect with Adam and Caroline.
Its cool because we haven’t moved on from our relationship with the Chappotins, we’ve simply embraced an opportunity to cultivate similar experiences with another couple. Realizing that we can actually count on friendships growing deeper through an honest process like this, I can’t help but wonder who God will bring us closer with next.
I encourage you to consider something like this with others in your community. They could be neighbors (followers of Jesus or not...wrestling with doubt and insecurity about passages is an important part of this process anyway), family members, co-workers...anybody. I feel confident that if you do, and are honest with each other, it will have impacts that you could never have anticipated. We don’t have to settle for surface level, transactional relationships anymore.
In his book, A Community Called Atonement, author Scot McKnight declares that whatever is true about the eventual fully realized kingdom of God, our atonement should prepare us for such a reality. In other words, we begin to live into that reality now, hopefully with increasing frequency and depth.
Jesus has instituted a new kingdom and a new kind of community...don’t make the mistake of thinking you have to wait for the resurrection to begin experiencing it. The resurrection is already beginning, we just have to open our eyes to the new reality.