Com·mu·ni·ty - n. pl. com·mu·ni·ties
a. Similarity or identity: a community of interests
b. Sharing, participation, and fellowship.
How many communities are you a part of?
A couple of weeks ago, I attended a memorial service that had a downright festive atmosphere as friends who had not seen each other in years stood in the aisle hugging and greeting one another, taking time to catch up one one another's lives before the service began. The service was for my friend, Nancy, who I told you about a few months ago.
Another friend and I (who hadn't had a chance to visit for a few months ourselves) watched, speculating about how many groups were represented. Some were from other churches, some had worked with Nancy, some had met where she worked out, and I'm sure there were still more from other parts of her life. There's no telling how many communities Nancy had been a part of.
I couldn't help but think about how pleased Nancy must be that her service was a joyful occasion. And I thought about the importance of community, and how many communities we're all a part of. I thought of the faces that make up those communities.
First there's family. There's the immediate family we're born into, and there are grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. As years goes by, and fewer and fewer of those "starter" family members are left, each remaining family member means more and more.
Later, there is the family we make for ourselves. Even those of us who are single should have that group of friends who family to us. For me, it's a group of brothers and sisters in Christ. They are my closest friends and I love them as much as I love my family by blood.
There are people we work with. Outside of people we live with, this is the group we spend the most time with. They see us at our best, and they see us at our worst. They know our strengths and our weaknesses. If we're lucky, they become friends in spite of it all. =)
There are our neighbors. I'll be the first to admit, this is the group where I am the least invested. When I'm at home, I'm in my own little corner of my own little world.
There is our church family. If your church doesn't feel like family to you, then you need to find one that does. We talk about brothers and sisters in the church, but the truth is, there are going to be a lot of distant cousins whose names you can't remember, a crazy uncle or two, and an aunt by marriage who makes you crazy. That's what makes it a family. But here's the disclaimer: You won't get to the family part if you don't invest in the life of the church. You have to actually participate, not just show up. If you haven't made it a habit, it's hard, but trust me, it's worth it.
God never expected any of us to do life on our own. He designed us to need other people in our lives. He designed us for community.
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching. ~ Hebrews 10:25