Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Body of Christ -- v. 3

This is the third posting I'm making today about a personal experience of the Body of Christ that I've had in four days. Call it the third verse of a song about this key expression in the Christian walk. And actually, as I type these three postings I'm listening on-line to songs on the Solid Gospel 105 radio station! So, dear reader, as you read these you should mentally/spiritually arouse your favorite gospel songs and have these in the background!

Now, my third experience of the Body of Christ was an alumni gathering of my fraternity! And we met in the Belle Meade Country Club! You know, never in my wildest imaginings did I ever think my shadow would darken the doorstep of THAT building! And you doubtless are puzzling over how a batch of "frat rats" could qualify as a part of the Body of Christ.

Well, it "happens" that Lambda Chi Alpha, my social fraternity, is celebrating its Centennial this year. We may be a comparatively new brotherhood, but we're one of the fastest-growing and most solidly founded of all Greek organizations. And our solid foundation is the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. Our teachings and Ritual were culled from these by an amazingly intelligent Brother among our Founders: John E. "Jack" Mason. One of our Centennial events was this alumni meeting at the country club in the "old-money" suburban municipality of Belle Meade last evening (Tue.).

To get there I got a ride with Bro. Travis Ross. He and I met at the other LCA alumni gathering I had attended, last year at Amerigo Italian restaurant on West End near Vandy. When he picked me up he had his new bride Julie with him (they've been married just under a year). All the way to the country club Bro. Travis fretted that he hadn't gotten a clear response as to whether the meeting was for brothers only or if wives were included. Turned out spouses were okay, for there were a handful of others.

When he wasn't fretting over this logistical issue, Bro. Travis and yours truly got better acquainted. When he e-mailed me to set up going together to the meeting, he'd apologized for the lateness of his message, as he'd been involved with graduation. I asked whose graduation. Well, it was his -- as an M.Div. recipient at the Vanderbilt University Divinity School! And it turns out that he and I share also a great interest in the religious history of the American West. But I'd rank our being Brothers in the Bond of Lambda Chi Alpha as our highest commonality.

And then shortly I was in a room full of fellow Brothers. Most were alumni residing in or near Nashville, but we had a couple of undergraduate Brothers (we call them "actives") from Western Kentucky University in nearby Bowling Green. And we had a handful of fraternity officials from our headquarters in Indianapolis. One of the first men I shook hands with introduced himself as George Spasyk. Wow! talk about feeling the hairs on my neck rise ("goose-bumps"). Talk about not wanting to ever wash that hand again! Bro. Spasyk is one of three leaders of LCA whose name remains prominent in my memory since my days of associate membership and learning about LCA prior to being initiated. (The others are Lewis Plourd and George Dirghalli.)

The meeting lasted about two hours. First hour consisted of mingling and chatting while feasting on a buffet of classy finger foods. Favorites of mine were some good-size shrimp with a scrumptious cocktail sauce, and rib of lamb with its own distinctive sauce. Did I say "classy" food? Perhaps the better word might be "high-class" or "upper-class". But let's don't go there!

Then we had some short speeches by the Brothers from HQ, and three very brief videos. Two of the videos were excerpts from our General Assembly in Phoenix last summer, which had commenced the 17-month-long Centennial Year. (Hm-m-m, that a lo-o-ong party; are you sure our HQ isn't in San Antonio?) The first video showed Bro. Dirghalli, who now sports a beard, white like his hair, which he didn't have back in the 1970s. He's an Episcopal clergyman, and I wasn't surprised that he made reference in the brief excerpt to our firm spiritual foundation and the centrality of our Ritual to what it means to be Lambda Chi Alpha. The third brief video was a pep talk about the whole Centennial celebration; indeed, it was an enthusiastic celebration of 100 years of Brotherhood!

But I think the best feature of the evening was the featured speaker, Bro. Spasyk. I keep marvelling that I actually met, talked one-on-one with, and listened less than ten feet away from him, one of the pillars of our Brotherhood! And his speech caused me to feel even deeper brother affection for the 85-year-old gentleman. (I wonder if he'd allow me to call him "Dad"?) He even made a direct connection for me personally when he spoke of the General Assembly of A.D. 1982, right here in Nashville, at the then-new and still-then-small Opryland Hotel. You see, I was at that Assembly (and thus may have met him there). He included description of the Saturday evening of that gathering, when LCA "took over" the Grand Ole Opry House and experienced the world's oldest radio show! That event, BTW, was the first time yours truly had been at the Opry. Gosh, what memories Bro. Spasyk awoke for me!

There was another speaker, Bro. Mark Bauer from HQ I think, who evoked memories that about caused my head to leak. He quoted two sentences from our Ritual, which when I first heard them quietly spoken into my ear during my 1972 initiation, had interpreted them to signify that I was about to lose my beloved "Big Brother" Bob Brannan. Honestly, I don't think any quote of ANY two sentences from our Ritual would leave me unaffected, but this particular quote had that especially deep affect on my because of how I'd interpreted them that night those many years ago!

After the meeting broke up and Bro. Travis and his wife were driving me home, he and I continued to share stories of our experiences as Actives -- he at Wabash College (an all-male school in Indiana) and me at the University of Idaho. It's so good to become acquainted with a Brother like Travis, right here in Nashville -- and with Vandy and clergy-education connections, too! And a heart-felt interest in church history! Too bad that soon the Ross couple will be moving to Reno so that he can continue education (on yet another degree) at the University of Nevada. But I'm glad I got to know this Brother in the Bond before he will leave!

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