I am a part of a peculiar society.
About 30 years ago, a group of college friends, who enjoyed one another’s company, gathered for a weekend. That weekend was so pleasant, uplifting, and emotionally encouraging, it was decided to assemble together again the next year. Singles became couples. Couples produced offspring. The offspring grew, matured, and some of them married. One of the couples has become grandparents. There is a core group of 6 families, and this group (or some major fraction of it) has met at least annually for 30 consecutive years. That’s peculiar.
What sort of things would a group of families do that would be so interesting, exciting, entertaining, and pleasurable that would compel them to meet together each year? Would it be exotic destinations or grand adventure? Would it be an agenda stuffed to the gills with thrilling activities? Would it involve alcoholic beverages? Not really. There have been a few modest recreational pursuits like volleyball, fishing, boating, hiking, and horseback riding. There have been a large volume of card games and domino tournaments, and there have been an enormous number of community meals, in-between-meal-snacks, and desserts. But is this the kind of mini-vacation you would brag about to your co-workers back at the office? Probably not. To some, it would be a bit embarrassing, a bit peculiar.
There’s more. These families, when given the chance to get away from it all, to shuck-off day-to-day duties and responsibilities, to go away somewhere where no one knows who they are and “let their hair down”, seem even more peculiar. When they get together, they talk about what God wants. They read the Bible together, share their individual concerns, problems, and weaknesses…and they pray. They encourage one another to be more God-like, to continue in doing good, and to offer help to meet the needs of each one. Then they sing. Yep, mighty peculiar.
Not only do they sing, but they sing hymns. The voices of ordinary people, with no instrumental accompaniment, blend together in time and in four-part harmony like the heavenly voices of angels. They sing of work, and they sing of devotion. They sing of transformation, and affirmation. They sing of grace, or faith, and adoring praise. They sing of heaven until their voices wear out. A peculiar practice these days.
Yes, these annual reunions involve peculiar activities of peculiar people. In this group of six families, all six are built on marriages to original spouses. All marriages have lasted 27 years or longer. All marriages are happy marriages. All of these families have experienced enormous challenges and various forms of hardship, yet they are strong, grateful, and joyful. How often can you go to a random sample of six families and find these qualities?
Oh yeah. This is not a random sample after all. This is a group of devoted christians…a peculiar society, and an indescribable joy.