Last year for Thanksgiving, my family came in from five different states to Wimberley, TX where we gathered to celebrate my grandparent’s 60th wedding anniversary. The property we rented was beautiful, and had a lot of space to spread out. Some of the cousins, also known as the ‘third generation’ (‘gen three’ for short), stayed in renovated old barn that we named the bunkhouse. It was there that we laid down the expectations of our time together that came to be known as the ‘bunkhouse rules.’
Important things on the list included: not being dumb, using your words, knocking before entering a room (with a shared bathroom situation this was important), never EVER skip the Avett Brothers on Pandora, and humble bragging would be allowed as we caught up and celebrated life together. It had been many years since we all had gotten together like this, and while done in a joking manner, those rules oddly brought us closer together. It seems as though rules might get a little bit of bad reputation. They're seen sometimes as a way to ruin fun times or a precursor that must exist before anything else can take place. Yet, rules can have this great ability to bring people together and tightly knit a community into the kind of relationships they desire to have with one another.
This is what we see with Moses and the Ten Commandments. Just after the Israelites make it out of Egypt and are free, they realize that they now get to define who and how they want to be as a community. Moses goes up Mount Sinai God gives him rules on how to be in right relationship with one another and with God. These rules are far from whimsical or extravagant, but they bound the Israelites together for generations, and they bind us together even today.
The same is true in Micah in a passage of scripture talking about what God requires of us. In Micah 6:8 it says “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” What if instead of looking at rules as a hindrance or burden, we saw them as a way to bind us closer together with one another and with God?
For the third generation of our family, we found the bunkhouse rules to bring our thanksgiving a space to be connected, be grateful and love each other well. Isn’t that what we hope at all times, not just the holidays?
This Thanksgiving week, what are you and your families’ rules for how you will be with one another? How do these rules knit you closer together?
This weekend in Access we will be talking about a set of three rules called the General Rules that bind us as United Methodists closely together in mission and relationship with one another. Plus, they’re just three great faith rules to live by and they make me proud to a Methodist (remember, humble bragging is allowed).
See you Sunday!
Cousin #3 of the Third Generation