Thursday, October 28, 2010

Never Walk Alone

I sat a bad example for my congregation this week: I went to the hospital alone. I downplayed the weight of the tests with my husband, allowing him to go to his own doctor's appointment instead of with me. I turned down an offer from a church member who offered to take me to the hospital and/or sit with Craig while I was being tested. I walked alone, and it scared me.

I realized as I was signing the forms that I had no one to watch my belongings for me if I were to lose consciousness. I realized that my husband would be in Fairfax and my other point of contact, my mother, would be in Colorado - far away from where my test was being conducted. It would take them a long time to be near me if something were to go wrong. I realized that I resisted the very thing the church should be - a community that walks together on mountains and in valleys no matter what. And, I left the hospital praying for a different reality.

I left praying that no one in my congregation would ever have to go to the hospital alone. I left praying that no matter the weight of life that no on would be forced to carry it alone. I left praying that no matter how sad circumstances might be that someone else would always be allowed to the inside. I left praying that my example of being so stubbornly independent would not be followed by others in our church or community.

Last night, as we gathered for our Wednesdays @ MVP to start the study, "Enough: Discovering Joy through Simplicity and Generosity," we talked about the role of savings and money. We shared around a table about how it is scary to think about
whether there will be enough for the rest of our lives. How much are we to save? How are we to invest for tomorrow? Where is God in the midst of this saving and investing? What is God's will for our money and resources?

As we talked around the table, one member of our church, the same member of the church who repeatedly offered to take me to the hospital and sit with me and my husband this week, shared what it is like to be a single person without children. He shared out loud his questions about who would care for him when he got older. The answer seemed clear to me as he shared. My mind was immediately filled with an answer, "The church will care for you. Of course we are called to care for you."

Can you imagine such a church? What if we really did pool some of our resources, welcome people into our homes who could no longer live alone, purchase a house where more people could live together, and take seriously the vision of the early church that is captured in Acts 4 where we read how the disciples brought all of their possessions together and ensured that there was not a needy person amongst them? What if we saw all that we have been given as not ours but as God's and really sought to be the community God calls us to be? What if we then extended this vision into the entire community, allowing our hearts to be awakened often each time we passed a homeless person, realizing with each passing how they are our brother and sister, too? What if we worked passionately until all people were cared for, until no one was walking alone?

Seriously. I never want you to walk alone. I never want you to be in any situation where you feel like you are all by yourself - no matter what the situation might be. I want to be with you, and I want our church to be with you.

I've been reading a friend's book. Enuma Okoro has just written incredible reflections on her life in a book titled, "Reluctant Pilgrim: A Moody, Somewhat Self-Indulgent Introvert's Search for Spiritual Community." I commend it to your reading, and she'll be in DC on Tuesday night to read from her book (email me for more information).

Listen to what Enuma writes, "I think that's what grace is, that God is sort of stalking us and preparing us in small yet significant ways for the shock of becoming church and trying to live into the absurdity of church. Really it's not normal. We do not naturally group ourselves with strangers who are different from us in so many visible and not so visible ways. We do not readily give up the things we want in order to provide for people we don't know or even necessarily like. We do not give our time, resources and privacy to just anyone. But that's what church calls us to do and that's why I have such a hard time with it..." (48).

I have a hard time with it, too. I am perhaps the most independent person I know. I am not naturally inclined to lean on others or to accept their offers for help. I am not naturally inclined to living community to its fullest. But, I'm letting you in on a secret today. I need you just as much as you need others.

Please promise me one thing.

Promise me that you will never walk alone.

No comments: