Yesterday my Home Bible Study group kicked off our fall session with a fellowship dinner at the house of my friend Kate. As the group of us gathered, each bringing our contribution to the meal, conversation swelled warmly around me. I did not talk much because I was dealing with some really serious pain...my neck was protesting loudly at having to bear the weight of my head....however I was a part of that organism, that eucheristo, that body, as they broke their bread.
When I make it to church I am greeted warmly with hugs and kisses. People inquire about my health; my life. I see their children growing up and becoming adults. I hear of their illnesses and struggles; unemployment, losing homes. We worship together in real joy. We laugh and we cry together. I cannot imagine not being a part of a body of this type. I was a part of one as a child; they helped to raise me....they sent me off to college with love and prayers.
And somewhere that link fractured. Somehow I was plunged into outer darkness and was no longer a part of community. I attended college; lived in dorm; worked among people, had some friends....but I was not a member of the body of Christ--by my own determination. I removed myself from that corral....and went to dwell amongst the bears and the rattlesnakes in the howling wilderness of society.
But that Body prayed for me and waited for me. And I returned; as I must -- because I am His.
And now they give my life meaning. I live in the security of knowing that I will always have a place at a table; always have a pillow for my head.....I will always be greeted with a kiss.
I have responsibility to them...to be honest; to love them in return; to pursue my relationship with Jesus....They do not ask from me more than I can give. This saddens me, that I cannot work in the nursery, help maintain the grounds....but they understand my limits and they do not ask me to exceed them.
I look at the world and it is a lonely wasteland of a wilderness. I cannot imagine living in it away from the hearth of hope and faith. And I know that were I to travel anywhere in the world, I would still be a part of this body. I would find friends and find welcome where ever I should go....where ever they call the name of Jesus, Lord, there I will find welcoming hands and warm hearts.
This is how God made us to be. He made us for community...and he made community for us. How sad to not know what that is like. How sad to live alone in the world. Where ever we go we should be extending our hands to draw others into this connectivity; into this embrace...into the arms of Christ.