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In the Hallway

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“I just want to be a Christian” . . . it’s the refrain of the last few months. Often followed by “Is that a thing?”

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About every third time I voice it, Steven suggests I read CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity. Apparently, he faced the same perplexing conundrum. According to Steven’s paraphrased synopsis, Lewis concluded that denominations are rooms off the hallway of Christianity and while you can take a breath in the hallway, you can’t live there.

I am currently in the hallway. It’s not that I have become disgruntled with one denomination and enamored with another. I think, if I’m honest–which I strive to be, I’m annoyed with people who claim Christianity in general.

I have found myself over the last year frequently considering what Jesus would think of what we call Christianity today. What would he think of how we use his words as weapons for our own agendas, disregarding any carnage as long as we can say it’s in the Bible.

And one night I found myself posing this question: Even if Jesus was simply a rabbi, a teacher as mortal as me, how would he like what has happened to his words? Being a former teacher, I can relate to the feelings one incurs when what is taught is perverted. Therefore, if I believe Jesus is the Son of God, wholly man and wholly God, how much more should I consider what he thinks about the usage of his teachings?

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When I read the “red letters” I find love, compassion, empathy, forgiveness. Any condemnation is directed at the mistreatment of any person, often that mistreatment couched in the letter of the law. Jesus was a law breaker in that he didn’t allow tradition to keep him from compassion. Some might even say he used common sense. You don’t leave a donkey in a ditch to die, therefore, if you can help your fellow man, you do. Jesus didn’t pal around with perfect people because perfect people don’t exist. He offered grace. He offered love. He offered acceptance. . .all to the outcasts. In doing so, he illustrated that we are all outcasts. And if we think we have to be perfect to deserve love, we never will feel worthy of love–so he showed love to those who had been denied love and acceptance–the lepers, the beggars, the tax collectors, the tent makers, the fishermen, the women.

This is the Christian I want to be. I don’t care if you’re dunked or sprinkled. If your accountability to God includes a priest or doesn’t. If you drink grape juice or wine. If you have music or chants. If you sit in silence or speak in tongues. Or any of the other litany of differences among denominations.

Eventually, I will find myself back in a room. One I probably won’t agree with 100% because churches are great except they have people (as my dad once said).

But what it will have to do is show love and compassion and grace and acceptance for all us outcasts.

A baby changes everything

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Or does it?

I read recently that you shouldn’t try to adjust to the baby’s way of doing things, but to incorporate the baby into the way you do things. I was intrigued, so I read further. The gist is if you like the outdoors, take the baby outside. If you like to antique, take the baby antiquing. If you like to travel, well, you get the idea.

A family adventure on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Obviously, there are limits to these adventures depending on the age and milestones of the baby. But it’s still a totally doable thing. Everyone told us that our lives wouldn’t be the same and we wouldn’t be able to do the same kinds of things we always had.

I had to wonder why? It’s not like we were jet-setting around the world to begin with. However, one of our most favorite things to do is to hop in the car and take off. Most often it’s unplanned, spur of the moment, grab some sandwiches (or stop at the local sub shop) and some waters, and see where we end up. Usually, it’s to the west. Road runs out if we go east. We have found that in the rounding curves and randomly turning left is where we can reconnect and rejuvenate our relationship. We talk about the laundry list of topics–family, fears, hopes, litter boxes. Everything is fair game.

Was Peter going to change this?

Well, sort of.

But, overall, no. This is what we like to do, so we take the baby with us. We load up his diaper bag, grab him some toys, make sure we have some cash in case, and buckle him in with us.

Now, when he’s not napping from the gentle rhythm of the rolling tires and the curving roads, he babbles too. Either to us or to Ralph the Rabbit who keeps his car seat comfortable when he’s not in it.

Our hope is that in the future when we have the itch we’ll say, “Ok, Peter, it’s time for an adventure.” And he will run get his adventure bag ready while we grab sandwiches and bottles of water, make sure we have a little cash, then met at the car for the next great adventure.