Monday, March 4, 2013

My Tribe

I have concerns about community, about shibboleths, about only wanting to be around "people like us."

But there is also something visceral, something that looks at a picture, reads a blog post, hears a conversation during coffee hour, and breathes in, "This is my tribe."

It was a picture of a friend's mom that reminded me of this. Joy on her face, love on her shirt, a friend at her side, clutching a banner of her belief ... deeply and reverentially, I inhaled, held the breath, and thought, "I have never met her, but I know her. For we are related. She is my tribe."

If she and I were to speak, we would already be speaking the same language. We might argue about the accent, but we could understand each other, even if we did not agree.

How important is that! In this world, where we not only don't agree, but often times, we can't even understand each other. We speak the same language, we think, yet my words go whizzing past his right  ear, as his fall into ashes under my left ear. "I ... what?  ... you mean? "

The thought is unfinished. We look at each other blankly.

Blink. Blink.

She reaches out to me, from the picture. We hum Spirit of Life together, we exchange stories. Perhaps, like my parents' friends, she argues with me, heatedly, but yet with love. "But you don't understand!" she glares. "No, YOU don't understand!" I whine.

The chasm between us seems large, but then she looks over her shoulder; I look over mine. The chasm is here, on our beautiful island. We are separated from the rest of the world by hundreds of ocean miles.

The chasm seems small, suddenly. We reach out, at the same time. Our hands touch, and we follow them with our feet, wading out to the cool middle.

"Kind of cold for this time of year," she says.

"Eh, I think it's a bit warm."

We smile. We are in the same water. No matter what we call it. The water runs over the rocks, past our ankles, on to a future we can't yet know.

Our future.

Our tribe.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Where is your church? How do you minister there?

Take a moment with me, would you?

Imagine your church. No, not the place you go to on Sunday. It's not a place, it's people. But I'm not talking about your formal congregation.

Think about your life, your day to day going and doing. Work. Home. Grocery Store. Gym. School. Soccer Practice.

Imagine all the people whose paths you'll cross. Some you know, some you don't.

Now imagine that they are your church, and you are their minister.

We all do ministry, whether we call it that or not.

Yesterday, I was in the subway system of another city, and I got off at the wrong stop. I stepped off at the next one, to head back. A young man was there on the platform. He had a welcoming face, and so I explained where I was trying to go and asked his advice. He gave it, along with some reassurance, and kind chitchat.

I had stepped into his church, and he ministered to me.

Where is your church?