Monday, November 26, 2012


"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is 
for brethren to dwell together in unity!" 

"And there was also a strife among them, 
which of them should be accounted the greatest.
And he said unto them, 

'The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; 
and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. 
But ye shall not be so: 
but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; 
and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.'" 
~Luke 22:24-26

There is a beautiful dynamic between brothers who love one another that does not exist in other human relationships where one 'outranks' another. I love to watch my sons when they are being kind and getting along. The older, who is eleven, helps his five-year-old brother with an understanding of how it is to be a little boy. He carries him around piggy-back, and wrestles with him gently, since he is half his size. The younger one, in his minuscule manliness, is not ridiculed for his weakness, but built up in his masculine identity. I see my older son slow a little, to allow his little brother to beat him in a foot race. I see him limit himself for the sake of togetherness. He plays games that are younger than his interests because they interest his little brother. He is 'being as the younger'. When his attitude is good, he cheerfully assists his brother in brushing his teeth, putting the toothpaste on for him. He oohs and ahhs over Lego creations that are not that amazing, even while he assembles his own designs that have gears and moving parts. And while he is older, and in a sense has more authority, they are both subject to the authority of their Dad and me. As they age, their relationship to each other becomes more and more equal.

One of the things I love the most about family dynamics over the holidays is the easy relationship that exists between the siblings in my family and our spouses. Some of us are older, and some younger, but we're all adults now. The first thing among us is our brotherhood. It isn't our age. There is a freedom to disagree, because we are all secure in our place in the family. I hear my husband and my brothers and brothers-in-law in loud, good-humored discussions on subjects that in many circles result in breaches. But they are brothers. And that ought to be the case among believers. Because they are brothers, there isn't that constant undertone of who is in authority, and who is subject to them. They shift from theological discussion to passing the salt -- to showing each other better ways to keep rhythm while playing the guitar and playing ping pong with the children. Three or four gather in one corner to sing, and two more go back and forth in Wii golf, since it is now too late to play real golf. One goes out to load the wood stove, and another joins him to help. We are one family. Many members. And the older ones are the ones making the meals, and cleaning up the spills, and picking up the ones who have scraped their knees, and rocking the cryers to sleep and running the vacuum cleaner. Over the three days we spent together, I saw three or four people vacuuming at various times. (Thirty-four people track a lot of sand in and out.) Two of the vacuumers were men. And the foremost among us, the one of highest rank -- my Dad -- was one of them.

"But you must not be called Rabbi," Jesus said, 
"for One is your teacher, Christ, and you are all brothers."

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