Filed under: Bible, Christianity, Church, God, Grace, Inspiration, Jesus, Prayer, Religion, Spirituality
It was an awkward transition from my private fundamentalist grade school to a far less restrictive Public Junior High named Culler. No more dress code, no more strict teachers and no more talk of the rapture in class. Instead of 15 fellow classmates all of my classes doubled or tripled in size. I was not required to play an instrument or sing in a choir. It was a huge amount of change.
My cloths must have seemed quite foreign in 1982 to people used to the blue jeans and t-shirt look. On that first day I stood in my cowboy boots, polyester slacks, wide collared shirt with lions roaring everywhere on its fabric, and an unnaturally curly perm that my mother convinced me would look cool. I was also on the cusp of puberty’s greatest humiliations I was a sweaty, smelly and greasy mess. Gigantic zits had already begun colonies across the landscape of my face. Extremely shy I rarely raised my head to look up that morning as I walked to the first locker that I had ever used.
As I opened my locker I heard someone say without a hint of irony, “Hey neat outfit!” Turning toward the voice I a saw an opened locker with a picture of Cher in bell-bottoms and David Bowie striking a sideways pose. Then I saw Brooks Whitehead. Before me stood a boy in wing tips, red plaid pants, a white dress shirt, suspenders, base makeup a little too thick on his face and hair that defied gravity with the help of an aerosol hairspray. I had never seen anyone like him before.
I thought, “I must get to know this person!”
A few days later I found myself in polyester golf shorts, converse canvas high tops, brown socks and a polo shirt trying to hide in the middle of a soccer game. As the opposing team passed me on their way to making a goal for about the 5th time a boy shouted, “Hey stupid, stop the ball!”
“Leave him alone Eric!” the goalie barked and I turned to see Jesse Quam smiling back at me.
“I must get to know that person!” I thought as I desperately tried to chase the ball.
I did chose to know these two guys and they became my best friends in Junior High. Being with them seemed to keep some of my adolescent insecurities at bay. Over the years I lost touch with Brooks, but Jesse is still my best friend. We lived together twice in Chicago. He knows entirely too much about me. I trust him implicitly. I chose these friends because there was something mutual in our conditions. We were all sort of outsiders in the game called Jr. High School.
So, what exactly can we offer you here at the Palisades Community Church that cannot be found for a price somewhere else in society? As the summer camps, soccer, dance and music programs begin we know that we will not be able to compete with the multitudes of programs that you can enroll your children in. We will not always have the best in world-class entertainment; financial planning, art, gourmet food or self help programs. What do we have that you can get nowhere else? We offer the seedbed for real and authentic community to germinate. A place where the very old, the middle aged, young adults and children come to have fellowship in a common bond of friendship. Where people of diverse classes, mental stability, temperament, faith traditions, sociological backgrounds, ethnic ancestors and geographical origins begin a mutual interwoven trajectory. What is that mutuality? It is the faith that something greater than ourselves brings us together and in this meeting of imperfect people we experiment with love, mercy, justice, peace, patience, kindness, forgiveness, reconciliation, regeneration, repentance and grace.
It is what the earliest fragments of Christ followers sought from each other soon after their teacher had floated up into the clouds. They came together and formed a bond that intensified their focus on all that they had in common. So close was their bond that they began selling their possessions so that no one suffered any needs amongst them. This was no 60’s commune; it was a group who came together at the temple in worship. Out of their devotion to the teaching and fellowship, their beliefs and worship with each other in the temple that it overflowed into all their social interactions. They constantly wanted to eat together, share with each other, praise each other, pray with each other and focus on their shared goodwill toward each other.
Is this too idealistic to hope for in our rugged individualistic society? Can we pry ourselves away from our unnecessary busyness to have this type of self-care? Do we have to wait until we are on our deathbed to call on the pastor and wish we had a strong community? No because friendship is always a choice. It is as easy as saying in your mind, “I must get to know those people!” and actually doing it. Then you will be on a crooked path with a group of people who have devoted themselves to the teachings of Christ and fellowship together. Come and let your worship overflow from this sanctuary, to memorial hall and out into our surrounding community. You will find that when you chose this path you will meet so many others in which you have something in common.
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