Monday, April 08, 2013

Blest Be the Tie That Binds

Every once in a while, a change in routine can give you an entirely new perspective.  We got so stuck in our individual ruts that we can't breath fresh life into our activities.  This weekend, the kids and I decided we needed a break from the norm, and decided to drive an hour and a half up into the mountains to attend church with the tiny congregation in Silverton, which is an old historical mining town.  I preached there once, and we felt so welcomed that we thought we could use a dose of good old fashioned western hospitality.  Dominick was working his last weekend of our long winter airport schedule, so he packed us a picnic lunch, and off we went!

How glad I am that we did.

We pulled up in front of the 125 year old building, and I was barely out of the car when an old friend who was in my ministry classes with me greeted me with a surprised smile, and the longest, warmest hug.  We all traipsed in with winter coats on, and sat in a pew that, like all the others, had a warm fleecy blanket waiting to drape over our legs to ward off the chill.

After a few moments, the service began, and we sat engulfed in the hazy morning sunlight that cascaded through the aging windows.  There were six LaJoys, and eight other parishioners in attendance, a grand total of 14 people.  We were treated to the most wonderful and eclectic music offered by such talented folks!  Imagine if you will, a lovely guitar strumming hymns accompanied by a professional quality marimba musician, and the most soulful harmonica playing I have ever heard.  This tiny little congregation which swells during the summer tourist months, becomes a close knit tiny group that hangs tough during the winter months, meeting not in the sanctuary but in the parsonage next door all winter to save on heating costs.

We sang, we listened to a message which was not a sermon, but a letter from a minister to his own son about the meaning of Jesus in his life.  The writing from Martin Copenhaver, one of my favorite Christian authors, hit just the right note for the cozy morning service.  We ended worship with one of my all time favorite hymns, "I Was There to Hear Your Borning Cry".  Angela surprised me later by saying, "Mom, I love the music here, but my favorite song was the last had so much meaning and I really liked it!"  It's always nice to share favorite things with the people you love most.

After the service was over, we were invited to visit the parsonage next door to share in post-worship treats, and while I visited with my friend and got to know a few new folks, the kids were next door in the sanctuary being treated to some play time on instruments from the harmonica player.  How I loved that he attended church in overalls, had hippie-style long hair, and had no inhibitions at all when it came to expressing his love for God!  He was so much fun to watch as he swayed, grooved, and waved high to the ceiling, as if to say "Hey God!!  I'm sending you some lovin' here!"  We all talked about him during the long drive home, about how hard it can be to feel that sort of confidence and be yourself in every way.

The drive home was luscious, and needed to be savored.  The snow capped mountains gave way at lower elevations to greenery just beginning to peek out of sheer rock faces.  Tiny waterfalls prefaced the much larger ones that will appear a month from now, and we drove slowly through light snow flurries along the "Million Dollar Highway", which literally cost one million dollars a mile to build.

What made it that much more delicious was the conversation and singing.  We sang a song acapella which we had sang in church Easter Sunday, and we didn't care one whit if we hit the right notes or not.  We talked about how the congregation we had just left were always so warm and welcoming, and we laughed about how it took us traveling an hour and a half or more to a far away mountain town to attend a church service where there were only 8 other people...and two of them happened to be Asian.  Angela astutely pointed out, "They may be small, but they take God seriously.  You can feel it." and Kenny chimed in, "Well, the Bible says you only have to have two to be together for God to show up!", which led to a deeper conversation about if God then showed up only with 2 or more, or if God showed up when we are alone as well.

A picnic lunch as we hit the small town near the bottom, Ouray, which is in a beautiful valley, and our adventurous morning was almost over.   I asked the kids if they had enjoyed our break in routine, and all five agreed it had been a terrific way to escape a bit.

Sitting in that sanctuary, a row of people in front of me whom I barely knew, and I had a better understanding of what the Christian Family is all about.  It was a spark of a thought that flittered through my mind, one I need to grab hold of and ponder a lot more.  We find ourselves bound to others through faith, regardless of the religion or denomination.  We struggle to live in community with one another, we often have very different understandings of God. We each see the world through faith lenses that can be single vision, bi-focal, or even tri-focal...and our Rx is as unique to us as our own fingerprint.  No matter how hard we try to be on the same page, we all have a different perception of the role of God in our lives, and who God is calling us to be.

I may not understand how anyone could live the sort of isolated life that our friends in Silverton live, but I know they seek God.  I may not understand how anyone can have the courage of a missionary, but I know they seek to share about God.  I may not understand how anyone can have the gifts of a Pastor, but I know they reflect God.

I am so glad though, that our family has a common thread of faith running through it.  So many of our most precious memories as a family are tied to our church.  Oh, you can bet we all have wide differences in our vision of God and what being Christian is, but there is the one thing that sews it all up, and that is that we each, in our own way, "get" God.  We don't insist that our children agree with our perspectives, for their journey is their own, it is not ours to map out.  But we've seen God, we've felt God, we know God.  Other families may have something else that binds them, for us it is faith, and that's what works for us.  It binds us to each other, and it binds us to others.  I don't think I'd have it any other way.

Blest Be the Tie That Binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

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