My family has one. Yours, too. And your neighbors. And your church (then and now). And companies you’ve worked for. What is it? A feeling, something you sense when you first walk through the door, or in the case of someplace you’ve worked, something you discern little by little as you continue to get to know supervisors, the other employees and the interpersonal dynamics at play. In the childlike innocence of my younger years, I mostly misread the clues, sometimes with blushingly awkward results (‘nuf said). At my first real job after high school, I walked in with soaring, idealistic, rosy optimism – and ill-placed confidence. Encountering the eye-opening level of adolescent behavior in fellow employees, complete with the occasional tack left on the occasional seat, and the shuffling of papers on the desk of the office perfectionist, quickly burst several of my highest floating ‘balloons.’ Realizing that I, the newbie, was a prime target for these same antics, I attempted to keep my head down and my comments (mostly) to myself.

Maybe a better word for the above is atmosphere. And maybe we’ve had occasions where we’ve experienced everything from warm and inviting and inclusive to cliquish and excluding, to openly hostile and menacing. Maybe these discoveries were a happy surprise or maybe a disorienting letdown. Someone has cynically suggested keeping expectations as low as possible so that everything is uphill from there.

Well, God’s Kingdom, into which we’ve been welcomed, has an atmosphere as well. Obviously, God is there. His character suffuses everything. Shalom reigns. We know Jesus’ entrance onto the human scene was the breaking in of that Kingdom, and that he worked tirelessly to transmit the ethos of his ‘Father’s house’ to his disciples and all who would listen. But there was too much to say, and too little time to say it all. So, what insights did the disciples, and indeed, the Jews, have to help understand the bulk of information that was left ‘between the lines?’ We, like them, certainly have plenty of illustrations in the pages between Genesis and Malachi. We’ll plunge into a few of them in the next few weeks.  Can’t wait to see y’all tomorrow 10 AM, 3 PM, 4 PM.  PD

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