Another short drive over the long weekend and we were – once again – (this would actually make the third time) looking for the home of James and Dolly Madison at Montpelier.  It is not an easy place to find, being nestled in the Piedmont of Virginia at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  But, it did help us to decide that we would look specifically for Montpelier and not see it as a side interest to other destinations!

The approach is a long and winding drive up through beautiful meadows until we reached the house situated on a hill.  Making our way through the visitor center we learned that the Madison family, much like the Washington family, owned this land for 100 years before James was born.  He grew up here, lived here, brought his wife here to raise their family, came back here often during his presidency, and then lived here in his retirement, continuing to offer his brilliant mind to the unfolding of this new country he helped to create.   Truly an American, long before America was independent.  No wonder the colonists felt they needed independence – many of them had never seen the shores of England.

In the midst of all this firsthand history, standing on these grounds that nurtured our political ancestors, I can’t help but think of the similarities between our history as a free country and our history unfolding in the church in 2012.

Yes, now we have instant communication, and the world wide web, resulting in one world community.  But, truly, each individual community has its distinctive differences.  Each group of believers responds to the demands of the day slightly differently.  Each group of disciples prays and worships with their own experiences in mind, not the experiences of others in some far off distant land.   Are we one church?  Yes!  Are we different expressions of that one church?  Indeed, yes.

And similar to our political ancestors in this country, perhaps we need some prophetic voices today in our church that will help lead us to a grace-filled expression of church that truly embraces diversity – all kinds of diversity.  There are similarities here.  I pray for the grace for someone to voice them and to have the strength of mind and spirit to lead us into a future filled with grace and hope and unity.

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