There should be no division in the body… its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. – 1 Corinthians 12
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what else is going on, the bottom line is relationships.
I’ve been writing about my friend Bruce, the deeply meaningful occasion of his ordination into the ministry of word and sacrament, and the long weekend Rebekah and I took to be there in Tennessee for the ceremony (You can see some photographs of the worship service at Behold, I am doing a new thing). But the rest of the story is the people, and those people are beautiful.
For Bruce, the call into ministry was second-career. He and Jen have kids in 5th and 8th grade and the family were an important part of our church in Brandon, Florida before we moved to North Carolina.
Beating the Odds:
Bruce has overcome tremendous obstacles to get to this point in his life. Or, maybe, he now occupies the pulpit in Fayetteville, Tennessee because he and Jen faced great obstacles and – instead of going off the rails – invited God to walk beside them along the way. The past decade has been a literal barrage of impossible circumstance, including but not nearly limited to multiple surgeries and hospitalizations, potentially catastrophic diagnoses, a lost leg, a broken back, and so much more.
So we gathered in Tennessee and such is Bruce’s witness to faith that several of his childhood friends – from 25 years ago in high-school – showed up from all over the country: Texas, Michigan, Florida, New Jersey. Then, adding those folk with Presbyterian connections, people literally came from near and far to celebrate.
Rebekah and I renewed relationships too (as well as beginning new ones). Gil and Marianne Evans were there from Brandon (Marianne chaired the team that brought Rebekah to Brandon in 1996). We met the father of seminary friend Tom Bagley. Then, in a special serendipity, Rebekah was excited to recognize the name of another minister on the Presbytery commission that ordained Bruce. She enjoyed a wonderful reunion with Gary Kelly who we had not seen since the day her class received their MDiv degrees in 1982.
The answer to isolation:
We live in an age where – for all the emphasis on “Social Networks” – people are increasingly isolated, fragments, and polarized. Our weekend in Tennessee served as a powerful reminder that we are beings created for community, and that it is in the practice of Christ-centered community that we always come home again.
I’ll label the photos best I can. But – literally – you get the picture – DEREK