This week, I registered for a trip, with our church, to the Holy Land. I am over-the-moon excited to go and walk where Jesus walked, sail the Sea of Galilee and just be in the same space as Christ and the gospel writers. In my excitement, I went looking for my passport to make sure it was up-to-date and found other stuff along the way. In my search, I found missing jewelry and right next to it were some old pictures and my birth certificate. Yes, eventually I found my passport but discovering some of my treasures took me on an unexpectedly tour down memory lane as well.
So what is community? Often people interchange the words neighborhood and community because both are defined by a group of people sharing space. When you work in ministry or in a church, the word community can mean a number of things. Yes there is a church community with all of the dynamics of a family, arguing and fighting included, however people also care for one another with love in all areas of life. Most people in ministry see it as their duty to reach out to the larger community as well. It might be feeding the homeless, mentoring young women at a shelter, tutoring students at low-grade schools or repairing homes for those who cannot afford to do so. This is a vibrant and active community of support in their intentional caring for the other.
I believe that each of us can unexpectedly build our own communities too. Each day as I walk to the local Starbucks Coffee shop, I pass a security guard at the college-parking ramp who greets me and sometimes who offers me a hug. The staff at Starbucks is friendly and often they just take my cup and fill it without asking for my order. When I eat my lunch at the mall area, there is a team of security people who greet me with “Hi Red!” On one very hot summer day I met a wonderful 94-year-old lady who has since become my good friend. These people are all a part of my community.
This is one of the aspects that stood out to me in my search for a God of grace and love. In Jesus, we see someone who was always caring for the community. Each place he went whether it was Samaria, Galilee, Jerusalem, or Capernaum, he healed the sick, cast out demons, preached a message of love, and even raised a few people back to life. Each community was different and unique but that didn’t stop him from seeing people for who they were and loving them anyway. He was on a journey of love. Through his example we are called to “Love each other as I (Jesus) have loved you” (Jn 15:12). In community we not only bear each other’s burdens, we love others as Christ loved us. In my search for love and acceptance, I found community.