Marc Chavannes, a Swiss-born inventor was on that flight. He and his partner, Al Fielding, had invented a plastic-textured wallpaper, and had been searching for an application. They tried marketing it as greenhouse insulation with little success. And then, Chavannes took a plane ride.
As the plane descended through the clouds after –perhaps—a bumpy flight-, he had the sensation of the little plane being held gently by the fluffy billows. It was like floating on….bubbles, holding them up.
And Bubble Wrap was born.
Fifty years old this year, Bubble Wrap has become a fascinating cultural artifact, with a million uses. Obviously, the sheets of air-filled pockets are most often used in protecting items that are shipped around the world. Everything from fine china to watches to books and tins of candy arrive wrapped in the stuff. It protects the investment and interests of both seller and buyer. Once the item arrives at its destination, Bubble Wrap has done its job and can be thrown away.
But it never is. That’s the other side of Bubble Wrap. After it completes the utilitarian task of protection, Bubble Wrap becomes a never-ending source of fun and creative uses. Of course, the most prevalent use is simply popping the bubbles. It’s something nobody can resist—and everybody has a technique. Some people slowly press one bubble at a time. Others twist Bubble Wrap like a towel and make it sound like firecrackers. Others step across it and let varied foot pressure make different rhythms sound. There’s actually been a serious academic study done on the stress-reducing effect of popping Bubble Wrap and how it makes us less tired. Your tax dollars probably paid for it.
But that’s not all. Bubble Wrap has been fashioned into clothing for models and a wedding dress. It has been used as a chocolate mold, a paint applicator, a cold drink cooler—and yes, house insulation. You can use it to line the crisper drawer of your fridge to protect fruits and veggies or to winterize your outdoor potted plants. It had a guest starring role in the movies Wall-E and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. It has an exhibition in the Museum of Modern Art and more than 250 Facebook pages. There’s an online Bubble Wrap that you can pop while moving your cursor and a Bubble Wrap app for your I-Phone. There’s even a Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day. (It was last Monday; I’ll bet you didn’t get the day off to go popping)
So, Bubble Wrap is a soft place that protects what is valuable—and an endless source of creative joy.
Sort of like relationships in Jesus’ family.
Christ-followers are called into relationship with one another. There are a lot of layers to those relationships, but being a soft place in a hard world and in response to our own limited brokenness is one of the primary roles we have for each other. Listen:
+ “Jesus said to them, ‘If I, Your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” (John13:14)
+ “….that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (1 Cor.12:25-26)
+ “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep” (Rom.12:15)
+ “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” (Rom.15:1)
+ “We were so utterly burdened that we despaired of life itself. We felt we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril and He will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that He will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.” (2 Cor.1:8-11)
+ “If anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.” (Gal. 6:1)
+”It was kind of you to share my trouble.’ (Phil.1:14)
+ “….bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving one another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Col.3:13)
Clearly, we’re called to a steady tenderness that shields our brothers and sisters. We protect because we know that life and soul is indescribably precious.
But there’s more. Like Bubble Wrap, that sort of radical love and investment in lives releases a creative joy in those lives. When people known they are loved in the face of whatever troubles come, they are set free to live—really live– in a way they never knew possible. So, we notice evidences of grace we see those lives—and we encourage it with all our heart.
+ ‘Jesus said, I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
+ “…strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith… (Acts 14:22)
+ ‘Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor…rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” (Rom.12:10,12)
+ “…that having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, you may know the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe.’ (Eph.1:18-19)
+ “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom.” (Col.3:16)
+ ‘Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus.” (Heb.12:1-2a)
So, let’s be the family Jesus means us to be. Embracing one another in order to protect each other from the world, the Enemy’s threats and sin’s entangling. And then showing each other the delight of simply releasing Jesus’ life into every moment we live.