SAME HOUSE, SAME ROOM, AND...
THIS WEEK ERIN AND I ARE TAKING ANNA to see her grandparents and other extended family, having a wonderful time as everyone enjoys seeing Anna (& Erin!)
As part of their preparation for Anna, my parents took what was at one time my room and transformed it into a nursery, complete with a combination of old toys and books of mine and my sisters complimented by some new stuff as well. It made me laugh to see this room I spent seven years of my life now being set aside to host my daughter. Of course, in the 20 or so years since that room was exclusively set aside for my use my sister used it for a few years, it served as a sewing & storage room, and as a second guest room, just to name a few. In fact, other than the dresser, bookshelf, and two Larry Bird posters on the door, there’s not much that is the same about that room from when I was it’s sole occupant.
Anna is a 16-month-old little girl, born 30 years after I moved into that room. While it is the same space in which I lived, I would be foolish to think she in any way would have the same experience as ME. The joy for me in watching her be in that room wasn’t about her being in the same room that I once occupied, for that room cannot exist anymore.
No, the joy for me was in knowing that mom and dad had a great time of joy thinking about how to prepare the space for Anna, and the fun that went into prepping and furnishing the room for her. When Anna got there, she knew instinctively that space was for her, and it showed in the joy in her face.
I think therein is a lesson for congregations within the Christian tradition – we have a choice to operate as we always have, fully expecting everyone who comes after us to have exactly the same experiences as those who went before us. And, yet, therein is also another lesson. When we, the people of the church, share our sacred spaces with those coming after us, will it be evident to those coming after us that we took time to make a special effort not to make them have the same experience we do? Will we have the courage to focus more on people having an experience with the same God as we do, or is it more important they encounter God exactly as us?
As Methodists in the tradition of John Wesley, we do place an emphasis on engaging in the spiritual disciplines as part of our journey with Christ. However, we have such a broad understanding of how God works that we know that as long as we engage with our Lord through means of grace such as prayer, fasting, worship, prayer, corporate worship, mission, and the many other wonderful disciplines of the faith, we know that God will provide each of us with experiences that, far from being the exact same, enrich us all as individuals and community of faith by allowing us to draw from each other’s experience of God.
May we never lose sight of the importance of everyone encountering the same God, not everyone having the same encounter with God…imagine how boring that would be!
Have a Great Week!
Grace and Peace, Lamar