Mixed Nuts and Other God Events

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                  June 5, 2013

 

I used to be a separatist. The peas never touched the carrots on my dinner plate. Although the salad was tossed in to a heap of disarray it was kept in a separate bowl barely in the same zip code as the baked chicken. Gravy was allowed on the potatoes, but only if they were mashed!

And then I discovered mixed nuts- cashews in the same can with filberts, walnuts chumming up with almonds, Brazils cross-culturing with Macadamians. I found out that nuts of different shapes and sizes could be tasty together. This only came after a childhood of salted peanuts. Pecans were something that Georgians had. Our family kept to the basics. If I would have seen a Barzil nut back in those days I would have kept my distance.

Now, decades later, one of the simple pleasures of life is to throw a handful of mixed nuts into my mouth and chew. I feel a little cheated that I didn’t get to indulge earlier in my years.

At a recent meeting of our neighborhood pastors (Lutheran, Presbyterian, Mennonite, United Methodist, Evangelical Covenant, and American Baptist), the idea was thrown around about folks from our different congregations gathering together for conversations on faith questions.

Radical!

The peas were touching the carrots!

Call us radical, but the idea excited us. For most of our weeks we’re in separate “cans”, protected by the “wanna-bes”, and now the possibility of talking with people of other congregations about things of faith was rising to the surface. In the past most of the time that has happened has been because a para-church organization has been having a fund-raising dinner and we rub elbows with the Nazarenes, Episcopalians, and Catholics because we were assigned to the same table.

What might an American Baptist learn from a Mennonite about living out faith? Is the gospel the same for a Presbyterian as it is for a Lutheran? How does the proclamation of Christ happen in different denominations?

So often we have been content to stay in the same can with all the other “nuts” that look like us. Our understanding of scripture is challenged infrequently because we’ve been conditioned to be like one another. “Body life” is important for a congregation, but sometimes we become “body dead” as a result of stagnation. Evangelicals become suspicion of liberals. Pentecostals are leery of liturgists. Caucasian Protestants are nervous about Hispanic Charismatics.

It seems safer to stay in our own comfort zone, where we have a better handle on what is going to happen…so we do!

Over the past seven or eight years our neighborhood churches have gotten to know each other in  several ways. The pastors exchange pulpits one Sunday each January. The congregations have loved it, and then we get back to our own “can” again. We’ve teamed together in serving the neighbors in our community two Saturdays each year. This fall we are going to have a recreational volleyball league in our gym, where a devout Mennonite can give a Baptist “a peace of this” in a holy-moly spike.

As pastors, however, we want to take our congregations to the next level of discovering that we’re not that much different from one another, and that we do not serve multiple Jesus’s.

When we can talk about out faith it may bring each one of us to a new understanding as to how to live out our faith.

Pass the pistachios, Merv!

Explore posts in the same categories: Christianity, Community, Faith, Freedom, Grace, Humor, Jesus, Pastor, Story, Teamwork, The Church, Uncategorized

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