Note: I wrote this about a month ago, right about the time I discovered that Verizon doesn't creen out idiots in their application process.
"Do you have any common sense?"
" That's ok, we'll put you in called customer service."
Anyway, this is the soundtrack of Redemption
We went to a wedding this weekend. Jessica’s aunt Kelly married a guy named Pat. I shook his hand, “Hi I’m your nephew.” He responded eloquently, “Hello,” and that was the extent of that.
They drove off into the sunset and left the rest of the family to party in their honor. Now this side of the family doesn’t get together all that often, and in fact was missing about 10 people to be complete, but were together none the less. We took advantage of the fact and spent the rest of Saturday (the wedding was at 1 and the reception was over by 5) and most of Sunday together.
This was good for me for several reasons. I don’t really know this side of the family so I only have vague and in-accurate impressions of some of them and no idea about the rest.
Now before you get the wrong idea, they’re not heathens. Some are Catholic, some Lutheran, some Reformed, but all attend Church in one form or another. They are a little rough around the edges, but I don’t know anyone who isn’t.
I was raised conservative. Very conservative, in fact. I never got in trouble for riding my bike on a Sunday, but I wasn’t allowed to used words like ‘crap’ or ‘frikin’ due to their close resemblance of ‘real’ cuss words. Jessica’s uncle Mike on the other hand, doesn’t think a joke is done until he’s cussed 5 times in the telling. He’s not the only one. Lots of lude language, cussing, drinking, and what-not. From everyone, even the older generation.
A few years ago, I felt very awkward around Jessica’s family for just this reason. A few times I’ve been asked to pray before dinner and I always have this weird mental thing where I wonder why they would want to pray before a meal. I mean they cuss, that’s like the opposite of prayer, isn’t it?
So anyway we’re at Grandma and Grandpa’s before dinner and Uncle Mike is telling his jokes and everyone’s got a brew. They’re carrying on and whatever it is they do and I’m getting a little uncomfortable, because well, you can take the boy out of the Dutch country but you can’t take the Dutch out of the boy. So while we’re talking one of the kids is sitting at the organ and playing. The musician in me wants to describe it as A-Tonal nonsense, but they were trying. Eventually I realize what it is that they’re trying to play. It’s ‘Joyful, Joyful.’ In the middle of the jokes about why women are better than men and a barrage of un-comfortable cuss words, here comes the vaguely discernable strains of “Joyful, joyful, Lord we adore Thee.” They moved on to ‘Silent Night’ and then into some other Christmas Tune.
I realized that this was intentional. Even if they weren’t sitting and playing there still would have been a soundtrack of redemption to everything we did. Paul talks about how all of creation has been groaning, as in the pains of childbirth, awaiting Christ’s return and the fulfillment of all things. Pastor Rob Bell talks about how Jesus is the core of all reality; everything that is, is because Jesus is the center of it. This is just like that.
Later we went to Pizza, and frankly it was chaos. There was an indoor playground with a ball-pit next to a medium sized room that almost held us all. The kids were running loose, with the teenagers egging them on. The adults were either yelling or talking. Timmy was so enthralled with the ball pit that he didn’t crawl out even to eat pizza. I had to go in after him and that was a very unpopular decision. Amidst the chaos, I heard some music on the overheads. “And I’m desperate for you, and I’m lost without you”
As much as I don’t care for Rebecca St. James, she helped drive the point home. This was worship. It was celebration, it was Sabbath. It was what we were made to do, be joyful and give joy. Sure there was a little bit of dissension and disagreement, but there was joy, laughter, love.
It was the most fun I’ve had in a while. They accept me exactly as I am, warts and all. I have no expectations to live up to, because they don’t have any. Sounds a lot like Jesus, it’s just too bad the church doesn’t get it. I’ve never been that accepted in a church. Period. But that’s not the point. The point is that underneath the chaos and the dissidence is Jesus.
God help me see you underneath all the chaos, all the noise, and all the madness.