At the beginning of 2019 (and probably before that!), God started talking to me about community. I have always found that to even begin to share my faith on any deep level, I have to really know someone – to build a relationship with them.
Our church community is so important to me. We are a small sized church in comparison to some, but I know that if I needed anything, I could call on anyone and they would be there for me. Even within our small sized church, we have what we call ‘Life Groups’, which are a community in themselves. These are where we spend time with a small group of people really doing life together. We know each other so well. We pray, laugh, cry, eat, invest time, love and energy into each other and our lives. This community is really special. These are the people who we open up to by being vulnerable and honest about our daily struggles.
God is very clear that we should meet together as shown in the following verses:
They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another…. Hebrews 10:24-25
But what about outside church? We have many different ‘communities’ that we associate with. They could be at work, at the school gate, parents of our children’s friends, at the pub, sports club, gym – anywhere we go to spend time with people. We can build relationships with people at these places, who we can share our faith with, whether directly, or by our actions and words.
I am beginning to build a community with my neighbours. In February last year, after much insistence from God that I couldn’t put off any longer, I put a note through the doors of all my neighbours, asking if there were any ladies who would like to meet up regularly for coffee (and cake of course) and a chat. On the first date I suggested, I had 6 ladies come, only one of which I had met before. Since then, up until COVID 19 hit, we have met regularly once a month and more ladies have joined too. I was contacted by other ladies who prefered not to meet in larger groups, so I have met with them separately. Two ladies have moved away and one has sadly died. We celebrated her memory together one sunny afternoon with (quite a lot of) prosecco and an afternoon tea. There were tears and laughter and it was wonderful. They are good for the soul type meet ups, which I look forward to. My personal circumstances have changed recently, as the children are older and have flown the nest, so I have more time to invest in my new community.
Since COVID 19 has struck, a lot of things have changed. One of the more positive changes has been how people have found or formed their local communities. They have looked out for their neighbours, checked up on them, shopped for them.
Lots of community groups have been set up to help people who are self-isolating. They provide food, shop for people, collect prescriptions and call people so they are not lonely. I pray this will continue long after COVID 19 goes away.
I have seen a meme doing the rounds that says ‘if you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you.’ As Christians, we are called to love even the difficult people, not just those who are nice. As it says in Matthew 5:46-77 ‘If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others?’ (Apologies to anyone working in HMRC – the reputation of tax collectors was not good back then!)
We can’t pick and choose – this includes everyone.
We were made to be with people; to live in community. This post COVID way that is being talked about, is not God’s plan for the world. We were not made to stay 2 meters away from friends and family. People need physical touch to feel loved – a hug is so important to human communication, bonding and health. I am not praying for a ‘new normal’. I am praying that I can hug my daughter, friends and family again, that I can sit next to someone, go for a coffee and chat with them without wearing a face mask and visit people in their homes. Let’s pray boldly for this together. #AVPleasePray