Genesis 29: 9-12
And while he yet spake with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep; for she kept them.
And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother.
And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept.
And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s brother, and that he was Rebekah’s son: and she ran and told her father.
We’ve spent the last few class hours talking about the concept of membership. We’ve noted that CS Lewis says that the Greek word that is translated to “member” in our English Bibles is actually “of Christian origin.” And he says that it originally meant something nearly opposite of what it is commonly taken to mean today. That is, today we think of being “members” of a collective of some sort; say, for example, the Sophomore class at Saint Albans High School. In that sense, individuals are members of a class because of what they have in common. They have all completed their freshman year of high school; they all live within the boundaries of the Saint Albans High School school district.
But when Paul wrote of “members” he meant something quite different from that. The word he used, Lewis tells us, meant something like “organs.” As in body organs – the liver, kidneys and lungs. That points to the notion that membership in the church is membership in a body and in a body there are diverse parts and diverse functions and to the idea that we are all different, one from another and that we are to act together in harmony, mutually supporting one another and thereby being and accomplishing things that we could never have otherwise done.
What we have not yet emphasized is what a beautiful and wonderful thing this can be when it is actually practiced – that is, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! Here, again, is Lewis:
A dim perception of the richness inherent in this kind of unity is one reason why we enjoy a book like The Wind in the Willows; a trio such as Rat, Mole, and Badger symbolizes the extreme differentiation of persons in harmonious union which we know to be our true refuge from both solitude and from the collective.
I was reminded of that paragraph as I read and re-read Joe Bird’s recent and very affecting blog posts about his mother and father. Each of their stories is interesting; they are both very handsome, winsome, intelligent people. But what also comes through in these fine pieces is how very different they were. He, the left-brained electrical engineer in charge of planning and executing the construction of major, corporate chemical plants. She the red-headed rose of little town USA with firecracker wit and a way with paint and brush and line and rhyme. Boy, their story is surely one that could launch a thousand romantic comedies; and I mean good ones.
One thing Joe did not tell us about his dad is that he was a high-school athlete. A quarterback, I think. When I look at this photograph of him at his work as a young man I see a guy who could have been a leading man in a movie and it is not hard to imagine him as the guy who, in his day, had his pick of the girls.
And then he runs in to this one, who is like none other.
This one who has a witty response for his every notion and whose relaxed and unrehearsed and radiant smile made him forget every logical, rational objection he might have had and every other girl in the town. “Oh, my gosh,” he must have thought, “What am I gonna do about this?”
I could imagine something like that.
When I hear this story, I want to hear more. And I am sure that there is more to tell and I hope that Joe, capable writer that he is, will get to it and continue to share with the world this story that is the reason he is here on the earth. I think this may be about as good as it gets . . .