Last Sunday, my parents and I drove to the western edge of MO to to pick up their new Boxer puppy, Max. Max is the great-nephew of my Stella and their Joey, who were litter mates. Max is adorable.
The breeder asked me to remind her who Stella and Joey's parents were, and when I mentioned the name Kia (their mom), she got very excited. "Kia's 13 and still with us! She's MY dog." We laughed because Stella is very much MY dog in the same way.
I said, "Stella is such a good dog. She stays with me, off-leash, everywhere I go." She replied, "Kia does that!"
I said, "Stella likes to visit the daycare in our church. She is wary of strangers but always loves children." She replied, "Kia too!"
She said, "Kia is the only dog I have that goes out of the air-conditioning at night to lay on the patio when the weather is warm." I replied, "Stella does that!"
When we went to the kennels, Kia with a now-gray face came out and gave us a wary look. It was like peering six years into the future at Stella. I was struck by how much alike my pup and her mom are even though they only spent eight weeks together. Those behaviors must be in the DNA.
Sometimes pastors talk about churches having DNA. Like attracts like, so churches tend to draw in and keep people who are like (in some ways) the people who are already there. As the church changes over time as people pass and are born, as people go out and come in, the church keeps its essential character. While a church's situation may change, along with its policies, pastor, council members, worship styles, and world -- there's something about it that always stays the same because of the people it has kept and drawn who are, in some ways, alike.
We've had some changes this year. We'll have more changes. You've stayed essentially the same. As we've gotten to know each other a little better, you've shown me some of your DNA. You're welcoming, open to new ideas that make sense to you, willing to show up to work or play, and eager to both learn more about and practice our faith in Jesus Christ. You have lots of good questions and spread news quickly. You are high in intellectual curiosity and music appreciation. You're also a little slow on revealing yourselves (we're alike in that), so I'm sure there's much more to learn before I feel like I have you figured out.
When my colleagues ask me how I'm doing after a year in my new appointment, I usually say, "We're having fun in Marshfield!" I hope you're having fun, too, as we grow together into the possibilities of our combined DNA. - Rev. Kim