On Tuesday night of this week, I drove down to Arlington to visit with the first pastor I ever worked with, the charming Rev. Carol DeVaughan. Carol and I have a really odd past—she was the director of a camp I attended at the age of eleven and we did not get along; we ended up bonding when I worked for that camp (and she was there one week as a sponsor) ten years later, leading to me joining her church staff as youth director, and the rest is history. Without getting into many details, Carol took a lot of risks hiring me, and upon my first day at the church, she pulled me aside and said, “I’m out on a very long, thin limb here, and I’m happy to be—but please, don’t start sawing.”
So we sat Tuesday night in a hotel lounge/restaurant in Arlington, as salsa music blasted through the speakers and a handful of women practiced Latin-flavored line dancing, or what looked like it as I stole glances through our conversation. Carol is retired, so of course she’s working part-time at another church, and she caught me up on that. I bragged very much about Midway Hills, and what’s going on at it, in it and through it, which pleased her to no end. And when it eventually came around to what was happening this Sunday, I told her about the Lord’s Prayers series and the text we’re using, where Jesus repeatedly prays that we (the Church) be one.
The Church, the big-C church, can appear to be very, very fractured. There are folks from older traditions who consider our practices, polity and beliefs null and void because we do not have apostolic succession, a specific kind of hierarchy, or wrong translation of the Bible. There are folks from other traditions who I think we would absolutely disagree with, that say women should not and cannot be in pastoral leadership, that the table is for the baptized faithful only, etc. And then there are just the churches that aren’t against us, aren’t for us, but not necessarily like us. And all these folks, us included, are to be one in Christ.
I don’t want to say it’s an interesting idea, because it’s not ideological. It’s not a great theory, or a hope for the future. It’s a call to action, reaction and relation right now—but what that means might surprise you. Unity is not uniformity. Unity is not necessarily even agreement. Unity might be as simply as sharing a meal together, being present in one another, and seeking God’s Reign. Latin-flavored line dancing would just be an added bonus.
I look forward to seeing you all Sunday. Shalom y’all,
P.S. Adam Richburg—I am still not over how great breakfast was this past Sunday. Thank you 1,000 times, and another thousand in advance for the next one.