“Finally, beloved, whatsoever things are pure, lovely, commendable, worthy of praise: think on these things.” – Philippians 4:8
The trend these days, and especially in the new year, is toward the anti-material and the minimalist: tiny houses, smaller cars, and Marie Kondo’s magical art of getting rid of everything you own. Even, or especially, in orthodox Christianity, possessions are suspect. But there are some ‘things’ that exert a powerfully beneficial force over our spirits.
My family consists of a 14-year-old, a 10-year-old, and two working 46-year-olds. In our house are very different schedules, temperaments and pleasures, lots of love, and lots of fighting. Life seems to be doing its darnedest to scatter us to the winds as the children get older.
We moved recently and got rid of a lot of stuff. But there are a few things we kept, or acquired; furniture that has become near-sacramental for keeping us together. They are:
A big dining room table for Communion. At it we struggle over math homework, play poker, and eat dinner together at least 4 nights a week, even if we are eating serially with only 5 minutes of overlap (or eating cereally, when Mom is too tired to cook).
A big couch for keeping Sabbath, where we can all fit for naps or family movie night, even if we’re watching on four different screens.
And an inflatable hot tub for Baptism, where we can relax together at the end of the day. Imagine a little sister and a big brother who have just finished their seventh sibling fight of the day, now floating in the hot tub and holding hands as they muse about ‘how a meteor could hit the planet any minute and take them out, but what a way it would be to go.’ Martin Luther said that every act of bathing is baptism, a chance to be made new.
God, thank you that some of the best things in life are things; things that help us to love and support one another better, while we are shuffling around on this mortal coil. Amen.
Molly Baskette is Senior Minister of the First Church of Berkeley, California, and the author of the best-selling Real Good Church and Standing Naked Before God.