Tomorrow I leave to go to California for my 35th college class reunion at Stanford University. Several weeks ago, my wife Nancy and I received a class reunion book that provides a brief update on our classmates. We were asked to provide a summary of what had happened in our lives since our 30th reunion. As I read through the book, I wondered about the classmates who didn’t submit a page. (To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have gotten around to this if Nancy hadn’t kept after me.) But I have a hunch that some of the missing people simply didn’t want anyone to know what had happened since the last gathering.
As much as I truly love reading these reunion books and the reunions themselves, it is easy to feel diminished at one of these gatherings. Let’s face it, most of us are pretty selective about our resumes. We tend to share an edited version of our lives: promotions, the accomplishments of our children, trips taken, and anniversaries celebrated. We tend to edit out jobs lost, career disappointments, the child who can’t find his way, marriages ended, and bouts with depression. Of course, reunion books may not be the place to share our pain and suffering. But the net effect is that the lives presented don’t reflect real life. I have a hunch that many people who don’t come to our reunion don’t come because they feel they don’t measure up. Why would they want to spend a few days with people who clearly have it all together and apparently can leap tall buildings at a single bound, when their life hasn’t worked out the way they had hoped it would.
The church should be a community that is honest enough about its life that anyone would feel at home. Because we believe that God loves us as we are, we don’t need to spend endless amounts of energy justifying our existence by presenting an edited resume. We are free to share our failures, struggles, and disappointments because we know that God embraces it all. In fact, the more we can bring to God and one another who we really are, the more we allow others to do the same. When we bring to God our real lives, Sunday morning becomes a truly festive gathering of real people celebrating the good news of God’s love—a reunion truly worth coming to!