Sunday, September 1, 2013
It's an idea that has haunted me for much of my adult life.
In college, the idea was of particular importance to me. I had left my parents' home and was, perhaps, more anxious than most to establish "home" for myself. I was not in love with the landscape in east central Indiana, but with all the people brought together by that remote location, I learned that something about those people, if not that place, was Home.
The problem with finding your home in people is that people move away. There was a mass exodus that took place where all of my closest friends moved away, either to the other side of the nation or to another nation entirely. It left me feeling homeless and lost. I found myself surrounded here in Muncie by an entirely different group of people than I had known before in this place. Our new, two-person family moved into a different neighborhood and everything felt foreign and unfamiliar. I had spent years surrounded by hippie-types (at least that's what some people called us) and was having trouble adjusting to an urban culture I had never known. Though most of my immediate neighbors here are white, the culture of the neighborhood is a bit different than what I'm used to. Over the last few years, we have also become more and more immersed in the African American community in Muncie. It's been years of culture shock for me, honestly.
I'm not writing today to say to anyone that I have arrived or that I am fluent in any part of the culture into which I am a transplant. It's not that I have arrived; it's that I've been welcomed by some gracious hosts. And I have to say thanks.
This weekend, my friend Tasha had us come to her family reunion. There were people there from all over the country! My family has a great big reunion, but this was bigger than the Sherman family get-together. I was one of only a few other pale faces gathered in the corner of the past-capacity cabin at Heekin Park that was reserved for honored guests. Honored guests. We were invited to sing. I am glad we sang first because almost immediately afterward, it was obvious that just about everyone in the room has some crazy musical talent. Anyone at that family reunion could've stood up there to sing, yet they invited us. Room was made and we were invited and welcomed in. The reason: Tasha said she couldn't wait for her family to meet her family. How awesome to be able to make it happen! How beautiful is that?!
Some of her other family joined us for service this morning where, once again, her family got to meet her family. I enjoyed worshiping God with my brothers and sisters. I don't like to brag about my church, because we aren't here to make the name of our church great. However, there are things I've learned here that it would be hard to learn almost anywhere else. As I watched one of my girls pack up and leave this weekend and as we prayed for my friend, Jen, who is moving to take care of elderly family members, I cried and cried because it feels like part of my family is missing. Jen said it this morning, and I think she is right: This church has taught me so much about what it really means to be the church. On any given Sunday, I can look out from behind my mic and see a miniature, Muncie-version of "every tribe, every tongue, and every nation" singing back at me. And the people in the congregation see an even smaller, diverse group of brothers and sisters leading them in music. We're doing this together.
Today, as I looked out on familiar faces that have welcomed me into their lives and as I felt the pain of people moving on past this place to whatever lies ahead of them, I realized that this place that used to feel foreign and unfamiliar has become Home. These people I did not know have become Family. We may not share the exact same sense of humor (you don't really have to laugh at my puns; groans are just fine) or the same taste in food (I'm sorry about those chitlins. This veggie-lover tried...:) ) or the same mama or daddy or even cousins. We are family because we have been welcomed, first by God, and also by each other. It's not about what all we have in common or what about us is the same. There may be only one thing the same, being that we are rebellious children forgiven by our Father. Whatever other different things we may have are all brought to the family table and shared. I see pictures of this as my friend who sings country joins my friend who sings hard rock and my friend who sings gospel and my friend who loves to rap all in one song of praise. I see it in the table of food we all contribute to each week so we can sit down and eat together as family.
The only problem is that here, home is temporary. Here in the heart of the Crossroads of America, family often meets family only for a minute or a season before going different ways. I look forward to the day when my family will meet my family and continue getting to know each other without end. That will be Heaven. That will be Home. I can't wait.
"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ." - Ephesians 2:13
I could've tried to post pictures of my family for you to see, but there are already quite a lot of them on our website and on our facebook page. But these two of a recent outdoor service went nicely with the roots and branches theme, don't you think?