The first time I heard my friend mention his Aunt Ada, it was in the telling of the story of what she said to his wife at their wedding, ‘It’s a shame you are marrying my nephew. I always liked you and now I know you’ll never be saved.’ He shared this with good natured humor, but the lingering hurt of it was there too.
Well today he is back from Aunt Ada’s funeral and as is often the case, on the day his family gathered to mourn a death and celebrate a life, the time proved to be marked by grace and growth. He’d described Aunt Ada as a person who was rigid and judgmentally religious. At the funeral, he heard more about her life and gained insight. Perhaps living in a story where all things are either good or bad provides some sense of security or control, but it also comes at a cost. He talked about Ada’s son who married a Jewish woman and had real wine at the wedding! He talked about a grandchild who went to jail. He reflected on the reality that Ada’s own story placed her at odds with the people she loved and the reality that to some degree she was able to revise her story later in life so that she didn’t become isolated from her family.
It strikes me that Ada’s experience is not all that different from anyone’s. We attempt to organize our world in a way that is manageable and predictable… to ensure that “all things be done decently and in order.” In the Reformed Church in America, this inclination is almost genetic. We can’t help but operate with control, structure & certainty, particularly in regard to our doctrine & theological expression. This posture comes with benefits; feelings of security, of confidence, of peace. Of course, it also comes with costs, which we usually incur in relationship and our openness to others.
As we as a denomination digest the reality of our diversity that was so obvious during the Conversations event and is often painfully clear in forums like this one, how does the notion of revising your own story for the sake of maintaining relationship strike you? Wishy-washy? Gracious? Flawed? Hopeful?
What about God’s story? As you read the redemptive narrative of the Bible, do you have the sense that God revises the story to prevent isolating the children of God? Obviously this is a perspective I am sympathetic to, but I’m curious how it plays with other RCA folk.