Meeting Times at 4th United Presbyterian Church

Cafe' Worship: 9:15 a.m. each Sunday in Gathering Hall (activities provided for children; coffee; snacks)
Adult Sunday School: 10 a.m.

Sunday Worship: 11 a.m.

Bible Study: each Thursday at 6 p.m.

Community Forum: last Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. with meal (no community forum in November, 2011)

About the 4th United Presbyterian Bible Blog

Posts on this blog are from me, Rev. George H. Waters, one of the two organizing co-pastors of 4th United Presbyterian Church. Our other organizing pastor was Rev. Sonya McAuley-Allen, who is now pastor of a church in Charlotte, N.C. Since June of 2011, Rev. Elizabeth Peterson has been our parish associate pastor for new church development. The earliest posts are sermon notes from the few I have typed the last two years. Then, there is a series of notes posted on the book of Romans. After that, it varies from week to week, sometimes church news, sometimes reflections on a happening, a passage of scripture, or even some pictures. This blog is meant to open the conversation we have going on in our church to others in our community.

The picture below is of our church's sanctuary, built in 1913.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Coming to Understand My Appalachian Heritage

I have been thinking about how I was raised, and how I really approach situations in life. I am a Hillbilly, which means I am a child of the Appalachian Mountains, who is a stubborn individualist. Now, I was taught at times in school and certainly in seminary about how awful it is to be individualistic, but I never really accepted that academic teaching. Sure, I understood that it was a real negative to be selfish and unable to identify with or care about those outside "the narrow confines of your day to day life," but I never really bought all the stuff about individuals being defined by a community. Sure, each of us is shaped deeply by our social environment, but there is something in the individual that the social environment can't determine. There is a central core in each person that reflects the mystery of God. So, I have always seen it from the other direction: a community is defined by its individuals and there is something irreducible and indestructible and well, indefinable about "the individual human being."

My Dad didn't teach me too many strict rules for living, but one thing he said over and over again was "if you have to be accepted by any group to feel like something, then you are in real trouble in life." Life just really wouldn't have been worth living for Dad if he had ever thought he had to wait around and look over his shoulder to see if somebody approved what he was doing. He would make his choices, live his life, try to help others in living, and that would be enough. In as sense that is the real goodness in the Appalachian way of life. YOU MAKE YOUR CHOICES, YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE, YOU TRY TO HELP OTHERS AS THEY LIVE THEIR LIVES, AND THAT IS ENOUGH. IF ANYONE ELSE HELPS YOU OUT, THAT IS A REAL GIFT, BUT NOT EXPECTED. AND, WHEN YOU REFLECT ON WHETHER YOU ARE LIVING YOUR LIFE THE RIGHT WAY OR NOT, YOU PULL AWAY FROM THE CROWD AND YOU COME BEFORE GOD THE BEST YOU CAN, AND YOU TRY TO LOOK AT YOUR LIFE HONESTLY. THERE MIGHT BE A TIME OR TWO IN LIFE WHEN YOU SHARE THIS REFLECTION WITH A TRUSTED FRIEND OR LOVED ONE, AND, WELL, THERE MIGHT NOT BE.

I guess when it comes down to it, I am a pretty trusting hillbilly, but I am still a hillbilly. My idea of a good place to live is a place where you can't see any other houses, streets, neighbors, or hear them.

The only real community I have ever known anything about is a community that gives a lot of room for individual peculiarities, accepts a lot of nonsense from individuals, and somehow draws the best out of individuals which in turn allows for the best community possible. I guess you would call my view of community one that starts from the "grass roots," which is to say, starts from its individual pieces. It is significant that Paul's definition of the Christian community gave a lot of attention to individual differences and the importance of respecting those. You didn't have to conform to some preset role defined by the community, but the community had to figure out how to accomodate your God-given, perhaps even peculiar gifts and bear with your weaknesses as well, just as you were to do the same for others.

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