Before I left church this afternoon, I ripped a small piece of paper off the wall behind my desk. It has been taped there since September of 1999, shortly after I got married. I had been asked to write the weekly Newsletter column, and this is what I came up with:
From the Pastor
"I've had a pretty high "learning curve" the last couple of months -- a new house here in Richfield, a new name, a new husband, a new family. There have been occasions on which I have forgotten my name -- writing checks, for example, or in these columns -- but other people have forgotten, too. I had a few years to get used to my old name, so I'm sure the adjustment will take awhile.
"Of course, the name is probably the least of the changes. Instead of thinking only about a cranky old cat and myself, I am continually thinking about three other people -- my husband and his two boys. When I go grocery shopping, when I clean the house, when I look at my weekly calendar, I can't be quite as selfish as I was. My vision has become wider. I belong to more people now.
"It seems similar to what happens when we are baptized and as we grow in Christ. It's a name change that means so many others things. When we are baptized, we receive Christ's name, and all of a sudden we are related to many more people. As we grow and learn more about our family name, it's harder and harder for us to think only of ourselves. Our vision becomes wider than it used to be. As it is written in our baptismal liturgy, "As we live with him and with his people, we grow in faith, lobve, and obedience to the will of God."
"...And with his people." Now that we have a new name, we learn to live with one another under this roof, as I'm learning to live with more people under one roof. It can be a pretty high learning curve sometimes, but it's how we learn to be God's family together, considering one another's needs and feelings, listening to one another, widening our vision."
"Who are my mother and my brothers?" Jesus asks this week. It is an uncomfortable question. Or, maybe it's a comforting question. Sometimes we all feel like orphans, looking for someone to share a road with us. Sometimes the vision of a few people in a little house is all we can handle. Other times we look around at the people who share the table with us, and don't recognize them.
Who are our mother and our brothers and our sisters? We can't get around it, our vision is wider now, and sometimes this feels like a burden. And other times, it is the greatest joy imaginable.