To Be Together
At Kaleid, we are exploring power as a worthy topic for seeing ourselves, others, and our communities. We are considering the statement, “Love is expressed in the world through our power. To be able to love and be loved is to have both power and vulnerability. Love happens in the spaces where those two things meet.”
Dear Kaleid Ladies,
Thank you for being with us on our power trip (Ha! Couldn’t resist!) over the last several weeks. It’s been encouraging to remember that we all have power, that our power is designed to be good because we are designed to image God, that our expressions of power express our hearts, and that by adding love to power we can follow Jesus into vulnerability.
Today we are wrapping up our power-emails by talking about who will be around the table at Thanksgiving.
Like, your family...and his family.
We return to Diane Langberg for some helpful Thanksgiving insights. She tells us that the word “system” comes from a combination of Greek words for “stand” and “together.” Systems are people, together, for a purpose. Schools. Governments. Churches. Families. Your family. At Thanksgiving.
God outlined several systems when he set Israel apart as a nation-state. In God’s economy, the purpose of a human system is “to serve groups of people.” (Redeeming Power, 75-76.)
Systems were created to bless. This is their super-power.
Langberg talks about how systems fail and systemic abuse happens, “when a system that is designed to serve people is instead destroying them, reducing, harming, wasting, and dehumanizing those created in the image of God...this distortion results in the parts of the system standing together to serve the system rather than the people.” (76) When power goes toward protecting a system rather than toward blessing people, the system is no longer a force for good.
While you might not have outright harm, waste, or dehumanization around the Thanksgiving table, it’s possible that you will have the sense that your family system, intended to bless you and yours, is somehow a notch or two off center, and people may be hurting within it.
So what is the way through when a system begins to wobble and people who should be blessed by it are instead numbing themselves to it or experiencing outright injury within it?
What is the way through when your pasted-on grin that accompanies telling Aunt Jane, “Sure, I’d love more of your oyster dressing!” or listening to cousin Ted sing his own praises yet again belies the fact that you are just doing this because...family...?
Or, on a heavier note, what is the way through when the family scapegoat is blamed one more time for things that they didn’t cause?
We look to Jesus (and we return to Diane). Jesus interacted with destructive systemic deformities by being a dissident. By “sitting apart” (85) from his own church, government, and family systems, he spoke truth. But more than that, he remembered that the people, not the system, were made in the image of God. He remembered that systems are “only worth the people in them and the people they serve...he made [systems] more vibrant and human; he never dehumanized.” (87)
We are not Jesus. We don’t see the truth as cleanly. We don’t share our power as lovingly. But we are able to grow as a human, God’s way, because Jesus showed us how. We are able to sit apart and notice when people are suffering under the distortions of our family system. We are able to look our family members, our fellow image bearers, in the eye and offer them a hand of care or a smile of grace or a word of trust.
We are able to love with power and with vulnerability because we follow the One whose redemption heals souls, so that systems can once again be structures of blessing.
So that we can eat Thanksgiving with our crazy people in peace.
As it says in Colossians 1:18-20 (The Message), “He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so expansive, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.”
Your reflection question as you head into the next week is this: What are systems that have been a blessing to you in your life? How can you imagine noticing and standing with those in your family in order to bless them in the coming days?
Shalom, and Happy Thanksgiving!
The Kaleid Team
P.S. The resource that has guided us is a book by Diane Langberg called Redeeming Power. It is very worth the read. Using Dr. Langberg’s frameworks as a guide, we invite you to a new habit of noticing power and its outworking in your life and loves.