The Communal Fire

When we dropped our son in Virginia for school several years ago, we traveled through Williamsburg, and then meandered down the James River to Westover Plantation. We stopped to explore this beautiful pre-Revolutionary War house and grounds. Bounded to the south by the James River, we discovered a beautiful pre-revolutionary war home. We found a well-tended Georgian house and grounds, a place used by many of the greats of early American history.

Now, other than the escape tunnel, used to escape marauding native Americans of the time, the greatest wonder to me was had at the outhouse. Sitting about fifty yards from the main house, we saw this octagonal, red brick edifice that supplied the necessary room.

a five-holer

We found a five-holer! Yes, five! With a fire place! Yes, a fire place! We totally got the giggles!

Now, maybe it’s not the kind of family intimacy we might want, or could even imagine, but it does offer a comically serious suggestion that we need to connect with others in meaningful ways.

our greatest need

You see, at the point of our greatest need, at the point of our vulnerability, we find a place where we can share, love, grow. We need to be in deep relationship with the folks around us, particularly our families and fellow Christians. We’re built for relationship.

Of course, the most meaningful connection we can make is in and with the presence of God. We are always needy and vulnerable before God. Yet, God is the one who continually draws us to himself as redeemer and friend.

But, we shouldn’t forget that God is a consuming fire. God is wholly other from us, and while our interactions with God through Jesus are certainly intimate and friendly, we must never forget that God spoke this universe into existence — God is mighty, powerful, awesome, righteous (and a whole host of other adjectives), and most folks encountering God in the Bible fall on their faces in worshipful fear. Yep.

Truly, God knows our greatest needs, covers our vulnerabilities, and he is the One in whom we may truly share, love, and grow. After all, God came to us in the vulnerability of a child named Jesus.

Who knew we could discover something like that in five-hole outhouse?

A text for the table: Genesis 28.10-19.

Image Credit: Outhouse by Anthony Dodd (Creative Commons).