Stories of Community

I remember groups of people swarming all over our house when I was growing up as a kid.

The thing was, the house wasn’t built yet and that’s why people were swarming.  Back in those days, my dad would send out the word through friends that on such and such a Saturday, there would be a “work-day” at our place to work on the house he was building for us.  And like an old-fashioned barn-raising, people would come.  The kids would play.  The women made sure the kids didn’t kill each other and then made food.  The guys worked on walls, shingles or whatever else needed to be done.

At the time, I thought this was normal.  It’s as easy as this:  you need something built.  You tell a group of your friends from church or wherever and they just show up and help you.  But it doesn’t always work like that.

My first job was as an admissions counselor at Huntington University.  I was responsible for New England from Pennsylvania to Maine.  As a way to connect with high school students, I attended the Creation Music festival with a number of UB churches.  It just so happened that my uncle, a musician and recording artist, was performing there too.  During a lull in the action, I got to go back stage and hang out with him.  I remember being in awe of just being “backstage”!  My uncle, however, wasn’t impressed and said, “It might seem like this is a community, but it’s not.  You have real community by hanging out on the porch with neighbors and having your kids play together.  It happens over time.”

I realized that what happened with our family when I was a kid was something unique.  Not unique to my family, but unique to community.

This week, we are going to study a chapter in Nehemiah that you wouldn’t think would make for a good message, BUT it does.  The organization is interesting as is the big picture of community.

goldsmiths, perfume-makers,

home-owners, mayors of small city districts, priests,

temple servants, guards, and merchants

…all came together to create something that was bigger than themselves.  It needed to be done and they did it.  This is community at work.

We might not always think about it in spiritual terms, but unified community is a gift from God.  Psalm 133 says…

How good and pleasant it is
when God’s people live together in unity!…
For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
even life forevermore.

This past week, I needed to move a heavy, concrete counter-top.  I couldn’t do it by myself, so three of us got together to move it.  My legs are sore this morning, but we got it moved.  I was able to give out home-made applesauce as thank you gifts.   And…I was reminded of the swarms of people building our family’s house when I was kid.  And I realized that community is the Lord’s blessing.  This is life…forevermore.

 

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