A bottle of Elmer’s carpenter’s wood glue ended up on my work station table here at home. It isn’t just any wood glue, it is MAX. The label states that it (1) bonds stronger than wood, (2) resists heat, mold, and mildew, (3) is sandable and paintable, and (4) cleans up easily with water (i.e., before it dries, of course). It’s great to have this glue around when needing to bond a frame together or repair a broken piece of furniture. The label indicates that once pieces of wood are glued together the glue-er can have confidence that the bonded parts will remain together without concern of separation or naturally caused damage, that options are still available to improve upon the glued-up parts, and that any clean up from the bonding process is relatively easy.
Relationships are like pieces of wood waiting to be glued together. Relationships, if they hope to remain strong and long-lasting, also need a good bonding agent. A myriad of such agents exists such as trust, care, kindness, joy, patience, interdependence, and love, to name a few. However, it would be interesting to consider that the ingredient, from a theological perspective, to give these agents MAX affect is God.
The Pslamist asks, “…from where will my help come?” In reply the Psalmist states, “My help comes from the Lord…” The Psalmist’s question and response could easily be applied to the context of relationships. If help is needed for the strength of a relationship, where can we turn for help? Because the Lord, God, is creator of all, and in essence creates relationships, then it could be construed that God has in store the ideals to keep relationships strong/lasting and pliable for ongoing construction/maintenance. Additionally, God most likely offers the needed clean up solutions for any spillage left-over from a relationship bonding.
The MAX bonding strength God supplies is available to us in the scriptures. Granted, God moves and works beyond scripture, but in the scriptures are found a treasure trove of guidance for being in relationship with the best of results. Some sifting is needed to discern the most helpful scriptures to follow, but the options are available and numerous. Sometimes the guidance is provided in prescriptive language (you shall not…) and other times in stories that depict helpful insights (the story of Ruth). When in the process of entering a new relationship, consulting scriptures to learn of God’s good ways of gluing the relationship pieces together is a worthwhile practice in which to engage.
The MAX bonding God provides for relationships allows for ongoing building and maintenance. Like wood glue that is sandable and paintable, so are relationships put together with the glue of God. These relationships are able to accept constructive criticism and ideas for adapting to new stimuli or crises. The book of James in the Christian scriptures is a good place to turn for sandpaper and paint.
Relationship bonding like gluing up wood can be a little messy once in a while. A MAX effect of God is knowing that clean up does not have to be complicated. A new relationship may leave behind material “stuff” that isn’t needed anymore. For example, a loving couple decides to be glued together in marriage. They discover that they have common possessions, that two of such items are not necessary to move forward in their relationship. So they purge such items leaving a clean “surface” that will accept the color of life that their relationship has the potential to receive, and that God is able to provide. The disciples, as revealed in the synoptic gospels, left behind some things to build in their relationship with Jesus.
I’m able to imagine the bottle of glue sitting on my work station table containing the glue of God and that the label may read, God’s Relationship Glue Max. It (1) bonds stronger than human relationships, (2) resists self-seeking attitudes, rudeness, and anything wrong, (3) is adaptable to methods and ways that allow for accepting new life, and (4) allows for easy clean up of residue from pre-relationship life.
Well, God’s Relationship Glue Max doesn’t come in a bottle to be purchased from a shelf in a department store. Nope, it is freely available wherever and whenever we choose to use it.
May the glue of God bond us together with strength, with adaptability, and with grace.
September 19, 2021
The in-person worship service on Sunday, September 19, considered what it means for everyone to have a place at the table. James 1:27-2:8; 14-17 offered the scriptural basis for accepting all persons into our midst regardless of social status and/or appearance. The prescription is that we not show favortism. Taking this prescription a step farther, Pastor Kevin invited to consider that we engage in welcoming all as a community, and that when we do so authentically we are trusted as a people and place where anyone can find relationship and acceptance. Hymns included in the service were “Help Us to Help Each Other” and “Put Peace Into Each Other’s Hands”. Videos of Carrie Newcomer’s song “ Room at the Table” and Shirley Erena Murray’s song “A Place at the Table” were shared as well. In addition a humorous, short animated video depicting helpful and not so helpful ways of engaging with each other was shared.
Links to songs and videos shared during the time together follow:
Room at the Table/Carrie Newcomer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkY_qBFs_3g
A Place at the Table/Shirley Erena Murray – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-C3PXPG0zCw
Solidarity (humorous) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuOJjUUMDbQ