Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14 NKJV)Thirty years ago I thought I would be old by now, and I guess I am. But having returned from my 30 year college reunion, I am flabbergasted that my college-mates by and large didn't look all that much different. As I walked into the reception room, a one-time and still young looking classmate told me I hadn't changed a bit as her friend proceeded to attach to my shirt pocket a picture from the college yearbook. My picture displayed a cheerful smile and an atrocious three-dollar haircut that I paid too much for. "Wear this so people will recognize you. This is how they remember how you looked." So much for not having changed.
As I envied how young and robust everybody looked - except me, I suppose - it soon was evident how much everybody really did change. Change was the root of this happy weekend. Unlike those brash college students of thirty years before, everybody checked their egos at the front desk. Time mellows self-centered hearts, and here was a class that had learned to control its headiness. More to the point, the experience of living teaches that we are not the center of the universe and that none of us has a monopoly on the truth.
M. Scott Peck, in his book The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace, tells us that in a true community people "have learned how to listen to each other and not reject each other." Some thirty years ago, my classmates and I had a community of sorts. At least we thought we did. Maybe it's more accurate to say we had a pseudo-community. We thought we were dwelling in unity, but we made the classic mistake of confusing unity with conformity. If truth be known, we were less in agreement about the important issues in life than we ever would have imagined. We could not step from behind our masks long enough to reveal it, and if we had revealed it, some of us including me would not only have refused to listen, but would have rejected out of hand both the message and the messenger.
So there we were, thirty years later, and in one short weekend we were able to build the start of a community - a real community - the one we only thought we had built when we were young, and this in spite of the different paths so many of us have taken. Again, M. Scott Peck: "There is a fantasy abroad. Simply stated it goes like this: If we can resolve our conflicts, then someday we shall be able to live together in community. Could it be that we have it totally backward? And that the real dream should be, if we can live together in community, then someday we shall be able to resolve our conflicts?"
There is something special about the Class of '76. By learning to transcend our differences, we built a foundation that, if we are diligent, can carry into eternity. Time teaches that strength and meaning come from relationships, from people and a God you can count on, from those who will stand shoulder to shoulder and fight back to back. For such a time as this, the ties that bind us will keep us strong, for the devil will conquer only if we divide. For such a time as this, with our world bordering on insanity, those we love and trust are God's servants for our strength and encouragement. For such a time as this, our community can encourage our commitment to be salt and light to this very sick world.
After a weekend of listening and not rejecting, I came to understand the words of David in Psalm 133. "How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity." We might have points of doctrinal difference, but all of us from the Class of '76 had a desire to serve our Lord and Savior. The divisions of denominational affiliation notwithstanding, the ties that bind are stronger than the disagreements that divide. When Christ returns I plan to ask him, "Was I right or was he right?" I hope I know what the answer will be: "Lenny, you were right about some things, and he was right about some things. But there was one thing you all had right. Everyone knew you were my disciples by the love you had for one another."
Excerpted from The
Sabbath Morning Companion, August 11,2006 by Lenny Cacchio. All rights