Our Attachment to Identity

Our identity in Christ supersedes all others.
No allegiance is more important.
This is the basis for our unity in Christ.

When you meet someone new, what do you tell about yourself so people will know and understand who you are? What do you not need to say verbally because they can see it in your person?

What conclusions about you will people draw? The ones you want to project, or something else? We draw initial impressions about people based on our observations. It is one of the ways we naturally make sense of our world, and may have roots in our early ancestors and their need to assess friend from foe, safe from dangerous on a daily basis – their lived depended on it. This continues still today in some communities, as we’ve heard on the news over the last year and many have experienced for decades. Recent violence in Europe and Africa makes clear that this issue is wide spread.

Me? I’m a straight, middle aged and middle class white guy. On most days all of that is pretty obvious. You wouldn’t know I’m of German, Irish and Scottish descent. Occasionally we go to the Irish Festival or Octoberfest and enjoy some of the very surface expressions of our cultural heritage, but we don’t take any of it very seriously. You wouldn’t know I’ve got doctors and professors and teachers and soldiers among my ancestors. By talking to me you wouldn’t guess where I grew up – my accent is pretty nondescript. Depending in large part on where you grew up and the environment in which you were raised, you might draw one or another set of conclusions about me and what I’m probably like. You wouldn’t know I’m a preacher most days, though once I say it you’ll think, “Oh, of course. I see it now.”

Veterans are an interesting group to observe in this regard. Some who served generations ago still proudly proclaim their affiliations today with pins, hats and other insignia. Others never mention their service unless specifically asked. I don’t know what makes the difference, perhaps the type of experiences encountered during the service. Were they in combat? Were they wounded? (The Brite Soul Repair Center is a great program helping veterans, their families and communities return and reintegrate after military service, which has a lot to do with identity.)

I have no stake in what identities other people claim for themselves, as long as they are not rooted in hatred and promoting of violence and destruction. My interest here is in the way our various identities intersect and when one trumps others. We have national identities, racial identities, ethnic identities, religious identities, gender identities, familial identities, sexual orientation identities, college or professional sports team identities, regional or city or even neighborhood identities. All of that is fine, wonderful, and interesting.

What I’m wondering is how we decide from among those identities which to highlight in various situations. Which is most important in most or every situation? What happens when they conflict? Or when your choice conflicts with those close to you?

**  A reflection for “Our Attachment to Identity” From 1 Corinthians 7:29-31   &   Mark 1:14-20 First preached Sunday 1/25/15 @ http://www.StPaulUCCDallas.org

See also: “Are You My Mother?” and “Where Does Identity Lead You?

The New Law of Freedom

Perhaps you know the phrase, “Keep it between the ditches”. It has been used in popular culture, including in this song by Drive By Truckers:

Doug Kershaw also has a song titled “Keep Between Them Ditches” which was used in the Dukes of Hazard.   You can listen to a clip here.

On either side of the road there is trouble. In between, there is plenty of room to move. You can adjust your speed. And some ditches are deeper than others. In what ways are our attempts at finding a moral compass, in scripture or otherwise, reflected in the spirit of this phrase? The ditches do not control or determine behavior, but they do suggest some constraints. Of course you can drive into the ditch if you want, but you might damage your car, and worse.

* Notes for Reflection on 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Go Take God’s Love Everywhere

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20

That Was Then, This Is Now

It is important that we recognize what time it is.
In our personal lives, our church, and the history of Christianity,
different ages require different things of us.
We honor the past best by living fully today and into the future.

This Sunday St. Paul’s will begin to celebrate 2015 as the 125th Anniversary Year of the congregation. Founded by German immigrants who came into Texas through Galveston, St. Paul’s is a congregation of the United Church of Christ, coming from the Evangelical and Reformed tradition. As we look forward into this century, we seek to serve Christ by serving the world and proclaiming the Good News in both our Words and our Actions. We remember and honor what God has done and said through St. Paul’s by continuing to listen, because “God is still speaking.”

More reflections to come….