If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll know I am passionate about community. I love the concept of community, I know the benefits of living in community, I believe it is important. But not present, not evident a lot these days.
I was at a park yesterday with my boys and a few extra kids. We were having a lovely time and then I happened to look up and see a bunch of people I knew. It was quite a large group – a mixture of Mums, a few Dads and a whole bunch of kids. I knew them all, enough to say hello, enough to be facebook friends with the Mums, but not enough for the friendships to have ever been more than a ‘hello’ and a few pleasantries. Very pleasant pleasantries mind you. From where I sat it looked like the group had a bit of free play, and then corralled the kids back to another area of the park where it looked like they were participating in some kind of organised coaching session, with a couple of the parents taking the lead. How wonderful. What a neat summer vacation thing to do. What a great way of burning off some kid energy – play with a purpose. I mean that with all sincerity.
But as I sat there, and wished they would look over and see me, and say a hello to me…..I also wished and hoped that they had some of their neighborhood waifs and strays with them. I hoped they had picked up some kids from some non-Christian homes and were loving on them. I hoped that they were being ‘Jesus with skin on’ to some frazzled/ worried/ in a pickle/ not knowing which way to turn or just plain lonely Mum/ child.
That is what I wished, as I sat there wishing that I was part of that group. Wishing that my kids would have nice, decent, buddies to play with. That my nine year old would actually be invited into someone’s home for a sleepover- someone that I could trust and know he would be safe.
Community is lovely. Community is awesome and creates security and lifelong bonds that can never be broken. But community has to be outward looking – community has to be constantly seeking out and reaching out and being there for others.
Hear my heart – just because I have longed to be a part of this particular community (that my example comes from) and it hasn’t happened, doesn’t mean that this group of people are NOT reaching out to others. I am not judging them or criticizing them, for I don’t know all their actions and heart motivations.
When Christian community happens, something special with an undeniable God factor is present. Last week there was a terrible, horrific incident in my town. I won’t go into the gruesome details – but – through the simple sharing of one’s faith a few years ago, someone from our church had made a connection to someone in the affected family, and so our pastor was called on to help out with the memorial service and our church helped out with some of the logistics and I’m sure gave financial aid and much needed support to the affected family.
Love. In action. Outward looking. Being there to meet a need. Not turning a blind eye when others are hurting. Being a listening ear.
It starts with the simple. An offer to pick up a kid from school when a Mum is sick. A phone call or a note to say ‘I’m thinking of you’. A meal when a family is busy/grieving/ sick. A smile to your neighbour. The returning of their trash can after it has been emptied. A batch of fresh cookies. Small acts.
But it is the small acts that speak volumes. And people remember. And people will wonder what you’re on about. Why you are different.
Community. We all need it.
‘By this shall all men know, that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another’. John 13:35.