I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind – just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you – so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Corinthians 1:4-8 (NRSV)
He thought rightly that we Americans, by inclination at least, have been divided into two kinds: “boomers” and “stickers.” Boomers, he said, are “those who pillage and run,” who want “to make a killing and end up on Easy Street,” whereas stickers are “those who settle, and love the life they have made and the place they have made it in.” “Boomer” names a kind of person and a kind of ambition that is the major theme, so far, of the history of the European races in our country. “Sticker” names a kind of person and also a desire that is, so far, a minor theme of that history, but a theme persistent enough to remain significant and to offer, still, a significant hope… [they] are motivated by affection, by such love for a place and its life that they want to preserve it and remain in it. Of my grandfather I need to say only that he shared in the virtues and the faults of his kind and time, one of his virtues being that he was a sticker. He belonged to a family who had come to Kentucky from Virginia, and who intended to go no farther…
Wendell Berry’s speech after receiving the Jefferson Prize, reflecting on the work of Wallace Stegner in 2012 (more here)
I have always felt a little restless. Call it a side effect of my upbringing – while some people are “stickers,” living in the same county or area while they grow up, the United States Air Force sent me from my actual home in the central Hudson Valley to Illinois, Maine, North Carolina, England, and Germany before my 18th birthday, and then to Texas, Mississippi, and back to Germany as an adult, with a little time spent in Maryland in between, because why not?
It seems like my experience is an exaggerated version of what is becoming common for people today. We are the recipients of a great script that opportunity is generally found elsewhere; if we stay in one place too long we are probably going to miss out. So we move, and then our kids move further, and before you know it getting the family together for a meal is a tangled mess of flight reservations, train station pickups, different days of arrival and departure and the rest. The importance of place has taken a backseat to the importance of the pursuit of the next thing.
Churches are peculiar places in many ways. First, of course, their buildings can’t move as easily as their members. Another is the way they gather in “boomers” and “stickers” like nowhere else. As we explore 1 Corinthians together in this pre-Lenten time, I’m wondering what lessons we can learn from one another and how we might better grow as disciples of Jesus Christ. There is knowledge to be learned in the experience of those who have weathered a few corporate relocations up to and including international moves away from cultures of origin. There is wisdom from those who have watched the sun rise over the same hill their entire lives and never felt the need to change the view. How can we provide space for belonging for the different experiences of all who God has brought together in this particular, peculiar community we call Flemington United Methodist Church?
Grace and Peace,