For owners of the MINI Cooper there is a unique culture. It is a quirky English car that has been around since 1959 and so most references to the MINI are couched in English colloquialisms. The “bonnet” is the hood; the “boot” is the trunk (yes, it has a trunk), and driving one is described as “happy motoring.” Well, after more than eight years I am out of the MINI, having traded it for a more grown-up car that can better transport my kayaks and navigate Forest Service Roads, and, quite frankly, it is easier to get in and out of without making those groaning noises.
When I bought my first MINI in early 2003 it was a novelty car. For the first couple of years people would stop and ask me about the car – “What kind is it? (MINI Cooper) Who makes it? (John Cooper Motorworks) Where do you keep the clowns? (Underneath the hood, they power the motor)” Over time church members have taken great delight in gifting me with toy MINI cars not much smaller than the original. In my study at the church I counted 15 toy MINIs along my book shelves that have been given to me and there are several more similar toy cars at home. What do I do with them now?
About a year after I purchased my MINI I was in a pretty bad wreck on the interstate that totaled four cars, including my own. It did such a good job protecting Amy and I in the wreck that I went straight to the dealership and ordered another and have not looked back…until last week. Well, as I wrote in the first paragraph, I am now out of the MINI. It was great “motoring” while it lasted. Yes I know, too much sentiment for a car.
All analysis aside, cars are just things. They are modes of transportation that offer varying levels of comfort and perhaps can make a personal statement about the owner, but they are still things. As I am approaching the return to school through the lenses of my youngest son and the start of college through my oldest son I am reminded how precious relationships are. Things come and go and for that matter so do people. Yet our relationships have an enduring quality.
Family, friends and the community of faith deserve our investments and attention; not the cars we drive or even the houses we live in. In the Gospel of John Jesus uses the term friend to describe a disciple. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. (John 15:12-14)
For Jesus loving one another is a sign of community, fellowship, and church. Disciples are friends and according to theologian Raymond Brown friend and love is the same thing, although the English language cannot fully convey this relationship. “The mark of the faithful community is how it loves, not who are its members.” (New Interpreters Bible Commentary)
There is much that changes in this world – the clothes we wear; the furniture we use, and the cars we drive. These are all just temporary things. Our investment in God’s community here on earth, however, is an enduring inheritance.
I am blessed to not only be your pastor, but also your friend.