Beloved Community

It was a beautiful day on the lake.  Since it was the middle of the week, there were very few others out.  The children tubed off the back of the jet ski, while the adults bobbed in the water and watched.  We talked of purpose and ministry, retirement and new grandbabies, losses and joys, new lake houses and trips across the world.  These dear friends have been like family to us for years.  Back when Jon was a new pastor and we were just beginning our family, when our kids were far from grandma and grandpa, aunts and uncles, this was our family.  And, we had taken just a few hours to catch up and share life together again.

This is Beloved Community in The Fellowship.

“Can I go down to the puzzle table?” my fourteen-year-old daughter asks.  We’ve come to her grandmother’s retirement community and she’s enjoying spending time with her Grammy and Grammy’s friends.  Just down the hall, there’s a table set up for the residents where they work puzzles, sometimes late into the night.  And the girls love it!  Even if their Grammy isn’t there, they love to chat with the other folks working on the puzzle.  Typically, Ms. Virginia and Mr. Bennie take a little break and enjoy watching the enthusiasm of youth.  Later in the day, we’ll get the guitar and go up to nursing care area and sing a few hymns with the folks there.

This is Beloved Community in The Fellowship.

One very hot and sticky Saturday off the coast of South Carolina, we gather with new friends for a Low Country Boil.  We first met many of these folks when they visited us just the previous month in Slovakia, but it feels like we’ve known them for much longer.  We watch some of the kids play basketball, eat shrimp, corn, and potatoes, and talk about some of their experiences.  The next morning, they share in worship about their experiences in Slovakia and how they are richer for having made the trip.  We share about how we’ve become richer by our time in Slovakia as well.  Toward the end of the service, the children of the church present us with a check from their VBS offering… and we’re reminded that in this community, we are deeply loved and prayed for by even its smallest members.  This church has been a great blessing to us, and we are richer in many ways for knowing them.

This is Beloved Community in The Fellowship.

After our return to Slovakia, I am quick to write to my dear friend to set up a time for tea.  We sit in a coffee shop in a local mall and chat, talking about the summer, struggles in her marriage, and a new life that will be changing their family dynamics soon.  She listens as I tell her about our summer and our time away from Slovakia.  “We miss you when you are not here,” she says.  “I miss you when I’m not here as well,” I reply, “we are so blessed to have people we love all over the world.”  She knows exactly what I mean, because her relatives are spread all over Europe.

This is Beloved Community in The Fellowship.

I could write hundreds more stories of Beloved Community in my life.  Beloved Community doesn’t have to be something fancy.  It happens in a church sanctuary on Sundays… but it also happens in a million other places outside that one hour.  It is life shared together, making everyone better, everyone blessed.  It’s time spent eating around the table, bobbing in the lake, sharing a cup of tea, or maybe finishing the last of the puzzle.

This is Beloved Community in The Fellowship.

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