Last Friday, the 16th, was the 41st anniversary of my first kiss. Hay rides. What are ya gonna do?
Today, the 19th, is the 2nd anniversary of my second oldest son, Noah, getting his first kiss as a married man. His bride, Tiffany, is the closest thing to an angel since… well, since my wife was born. The kids got married in a sushi bar. Actually it was a sushi bar + Japanese steakhouse. One hundred guests sat noshing appetizers around the island grills. Noah worked the room while Tiffany made herself ready. At some point, music began to play and the kids walked down the “aisle”. Three brothers and a friend stood up with Noah. One brother wore blue, Braveheart facepaint (I’m not kidding). A sister and three friends stood with Tiffany – no face paint per se, but isn’t that what eye shadow and blush are? Between bouts of tears and choking up, I officiated. In biblical times, weddings were exclusively done in the context of a feast – the knot was tied in the middle of the meal. I’m so thrilled that the kids decided to go this direction. It was relaxed, innovative, and joyous for everyone involved. It was a shared experience, not a witnessed ceremony.
One month ago, we received another great blessing from Noah & Tiffany – not what you’re thinking (no thanks to their mischievous young brother who launched a Facebook virus about them being “in the family way”). The kids are looking for a house and wound up with no good prospects as their apartment lease ran out. My wife and I encouraged them to and move into our house and take the stress off where to land next. Sharing a home with them now has impressed upon me the power of a simple word from our Sponsor:
…speaking the truth in love… (Ephesians 4:15)
You’ll recall from your college days, roommates are dangerous things. Family roomies… grown up, married family roomies are no exception. Meshing lives and preferences and habits together is tough enough for a husband and wife. When you add the dynamics of another husband / wife, son / daughter-in-love, things can get interesting. Tiffany does social media marketing and is a part-time pro baker. She loves cooking, as do I. Very early on I realized that our kitchen dynamics needed some sorting out. So we talked – in love. It would be very easy for shallow people to fall apart at this point. Hurt feelings, pride, stubbornness have a way of screwing up relationships. Just yesterday Tiffany and I were talking, I said to her, “I’m happily stuck with you forever and you’re stuck with me forever. I’m glad we can talk honestly and still love one another.” She agreed.
Every Sunday, pastors stand in the pulpit and talk about the “church family”. We even call each other brother and sister. We’re supposed to have the living, loving dynamic of grown-ups rooming with one another. It is often the farthest thing from the truth. Twenty years in ministry has taught me that what our Sponsor said through Jude said 2000 years ago is still true today:
These are the men [and women] who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever. (Jude 12-13)
“Love feasts” refers to gathering as a church family for the Lord’s supper (and other activities). In these gatherings are people (like this gal) who care only for themselves, not for others, creating pain and divisiveness rather than harmony and compassion. The church is also full of people who want love, but not the truth. Even spoken in love, most people don’t want to hear “you made a mistake” or “you need to take a step toward maturity”. The result of all this is a church full of divorces and schisms. Folks won’t speak to each other, but heartily gossip about each other. Many just bolt the church altogether hoping the folks at next church will be nicer to them. Is that what a family is supposed to look like? Our Sponsor does not thinks so.
On this topic, the Gospel according to Go, Dog. Go! is quite helpful.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to simply tell someone you do not see the world the way they see it and still love one another? Sunday morning, my dear Tiffany, offered me a plateful of gorgeous looking cookies called “Snowballs”. Apparently these cookies have dates in them. I assured her those snowballs would melt in Hell before I ate one. And then I went on a terribly amusing rant about disgusting foods, including, but not limited to, dates, figs, and sauerkraut. (I even worked out the etymology of the word “disgust” mid-rant. I was at my best!) Tiffany walked out the door… to church. In a couple hours we’d all be back home – together. And our family feast of love will carry on… with extra snowballs for all the rest. You're welcome.
Followers of Jesus speak the truth in love. Followers of Jesus HEAR the truth in love. Followers of Jesus forbear, forgive, and forge on together. I wish it were so in practice as well as principle.
Clark H Smith
The story of Noah and Tiffany living in our home has another fascinating wrinkle. Please jump over to my It’s Good To Be The Dad blog and read this post. It will inspire you.