Different Stories, Same Home

A Lenten reflection from the Reverend David Olson

I’m sitting in the middle of a long table, and looking around, I see all kinds of different faces looking back at me. They are all men, as this is a meeting of my St. John’s men’s group, but beyond that each face represents a totally unique individual. Each is a different person.  Each has his own path. Each has his own beliefs and ideas about politics, social issues, life. No two are exactly alike, and no two believe the exact same things about this world and what makes it up.

But the best thing about this group I’m sitting with is that none of that really matters.

We gather like this twice a month, in the evening, at a local establishment. We laugh a lot, tell embellished stories, and we talk about God, life, current events, world issues, fishing, kids, busy schedules, the joys and challenges of being a follower of Jesus and any other random topic that might come up in our wandering conversations.

I have really grown to love the time I get to spend with this group as it gives me a place to talk with others in a safe place about so much of what swirls in my head each and every day.

Yes, we are all different people with different beliefs and lives, but as I sit looking around at them I realize the one thing that doesn’t change each time we get together is the table we sit around. It’s always the same table, with the same chairs, and even the same weird coasters spread out over it.

And in this way I suppose my men’s group is just a small microcosm of what St. John’s is as a church, gathered together in four walls, around meals, around Eucharist, celebrating, mourning, worshiping, learning. We are a community made up of vastly different people, from all walks of life and with different views and ideas but each time we get together we have one thing in common that outweighs all the things we don’t have in common. We are Christians who call St. John’s home.

As I sit here tonight at my men’s group, looking at all these faces, I’m reminded of when it’s time for Holy Eucharist each Sunday, and how much I enjoy watching all the different faces that come up to gather around the same table, each with their own stories and worries and joys, a table with its own version of weird coasters spread out all over it.

Young and old, joyful and struggling, anxious or at peace. All come, all are together.

And yes, all different, but, in the ways that matter, all the same.

In a divided world where more and more we tend to only surround ourselves with those who are just like us, this is a wonderful gift. Tonight I can’t help but think about that.

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