We made the trip to Maryland yesterday for the installation service tomorrow. We are staying with family for a couple of nights. They live about 45 minutes away from Grace CRC in Burke, VA. Our trip was remarkably uneventful given that 800,000 less cars are on the road due to the government shutdown. The feel of fall is stronger here in the DC area. Some sprinkling of color exists in Raleigh, but stepping on crispy oak leaves here is a stark reminder that it is not spring or summer anymore. The weather in Raleigh has created some disorientation for me. It is certainly different from Ontario. Yes, North Carolina has 4 distinct seasons, which may come to a surprise to some of our northern friends. The winter is just drastically reduced. Spring, summer, and fall are stretched out a bit.
This weather disorientation reminds me of some other cultural differences. For example, a popular morning radio program in Raleigh is called Bob and the Showgram. Bob has been on the air for some time now. The content is mostly made up of superficial pop culture talk. Bob has a thick and thorough North Carolinian accent. When I first moved here, I assumed that Bob is a DJ on a country music station. It shocked me when I first heard Bob introduce the latest pop song. It almost made me laugh. The joke is on me however, as 7 months later I do not hear the accent as much. What seemed so obviously out of place for me at first no longer feels that way.
Back in February, the main newspaper in Raleigh- the News and Observer- highlighted on the front page: ‘Southern Accent in Danger?’I may have mentioned this in a prior blog. With the large influx of people from other parts of the world moving to Raleigh, studies have proven that the intensity of certain North Carolinian accent idiosyncrasies are changing. This is not a hard and fast rule of course. Linguistics is an organic and general field of study. Still, there are changes happening here, which means that people who sound like me do not feel entirely out of place.
The reality is, the differences and nuances are there and the alterations of weather and accent I have experienced have been both good and bad. Part of the goal for me is to be in the world but not of it. In other words, I am called to be, love, invest, serve, and work in southwest Wake County. However, I am called to be different, odd, distinct, set apart and unique as a Christian. This principle is true wherever I would live. It just feels more real being in a newer context. Being different is also easier. The challenge is for my faith to be the obvious difference for people to see, and not merely the differences of accent, nationality, background, or church affiliation. In other words, the challenge is for people to see who I am in Christ in a way that trumps my other optical and audible differences. My ‘context’ is found in Christ, and everything else is secondary to that primary identity. That is the glue that ties Christians together, and the attraction for others.
If you are a Christian, how does your identity in Christ trump your ethnic and cultural background, church affiliation, and family ties? I’ll flip the question: how does all the things that make you you highlight and point to your primary identity in Christ?
If you are not a Christian, the invitation is to discover the truest form of identity, which leads to the truest form of meaning and purpose. It can all be found when one is drawn to Christ, challenged by his message, and release with this new identity.
I so wish I knew who to give credit for this picture. I thought I’d post it still just to give an idea of what it symbolically looks like to be in Christ. We pick up our cross, and announce the Coming of the Kingdom through our lives, jobs, marriages, family, church involvement, service, etc.