Group Dynamics (Sixth Ordinary)

Jesus continued, “Trivialise even the smallest item in God’s Law and you will only have trivialised yourself. But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honour in the kingdom. Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won’t know the first thing about entering the kingdom”. (Matthew 5: 19 – 20)

I have some good friends in the United States who are members of the Elks fraternal order. I like to teasingly bug them to show me the secret handshake, and they steadily refuse. I don’t know if the Elks even have a secret handshake – they certainly aren’t going to tell me – and if I really wanted to know,

I could, of course, become an Elk myself. Who knows? Maybe I will someday.

I’ve always been a joiner. From sports teams to language clubs as a kid to music groups and church committees as an adult, I love being part of structured groups. I like my socialising to revolve around activities, but what I also like about established groups is the stability. Members ebb and flow, but there’s always a core. Groups meet regularly and traditions evolve with them – and sometimes those traditions can include oaths, pledges, and even handshakes.

Anachronistic, maybe, but meaningful – because they indicate commitment. But those gestures are empty if the people making them don’t really mean it.

The best groups to which I’ve belonged – the ones that flourished and were the most enjoyable – were one’s that had expectations of their members, and members who joined with sincere intentions to do their best to fulfill them. Maybe it’s a good thing to be called to righteousness. Go high.

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