Monday, December 07, 2009

::Snapshot Sundays::

"What if you were to enter into my home at the one moment in months that my older children began to bicker and my babies cried? Would you conclude my life is utter chaos at all times? Of course we can judge each other by freeze frames, and we can conclude and spread all sorts of speculation to others, but we are just outsiders. There is only so much damage we can inflict from our limited vantage point."

~Large family Mothering~

or those of us who attend a mid-sized church every Sunday, ask yourself if you have a growing portfolio of snapshot-judgments cluttering your head? Don't you? I do. Once a week we all come together under one banner. At our very best, we arrive with hearts ready to learn and to grow-- hands ready to serve. We are focused, as we ought to be, on Jesus. But there are bad days. Days when we have left the house in a mental mess, and bring that baggage into the building. We can't manage to focus on the sermon so we look around instead. We appraise the people we worship with. What we see is only eyes-deep: how they look, what they wear, how they walk and talk, what roles they play. And we come to a myriad of conclusions.

A couple. Two feet between them. Backs stiff. Marriage trouble? CLICK.

Late. Shuffles through the doors. Finds a seat at the back. Keeping eyes low. Guilty? CLICK.

Hallway talker. Smiles that never reach the eyes. Many words, but little revealed. Hiding? CLICK.

Four squirmy kids in a row. Two on the floor, squabbling over crayola colours. One sprawled across a lap. Another anchored to the bench by firm arms. Hushed admonishments. Wild hair and inside-out dress shirts. Unruly? Undisciplined? CLICK.

We need to find new context for the people we have freeze-framed on these snapshot-Sundays. Dig deeper. The oddities and idiosyncrasies of people are fascinating, and worthy of exploration. There are so many stories that can't be unlocked by staring at a photo. We can mull it over in our minds but it will only ever have a two dimensional quality to it. Nor can we 'unlock' a person between service and Sunday school. More often, stories are revealed over a hot lunch in the warmth of a home.

I challenge you to work your way through your church directory. There will be names you want to avoid. Don't skip over them, but extend an invitation. Aidan and I have been blessed again and again by the depth of each individual, and the capacity we all have to love our way past the preconceptions. It is a worthy labour-- this home-opening endeavour. Not always easy--but worthy. It is one avenue this family is taking; away from insular-living and towards true community, as we strive to see each and every person clearly--beyond the freeze-frames in our mind.