Monday, November 16, 2009
Community : Serving and Being Served
Peter Pollock and Bridget Chumbley are hosting their bimonthly one word blog carnival. Today's word is "Community". For purposes of this post, I am working with the definition
a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists (usually prec. by the): the business community; the community of scholars.
Which I found here.
So, a community shares something in common. But is knowing that the person living across the alley likes to play checkers and so do I really make us part of the checker playing community together? You know, I don't think so. I think to really be part of a community, we need to share more than a common interest. I believe we need to share our very selves: we need to serve a community, and allow ourselves to be served by that community, to really be a part of it.
Community must be important to God, I think. When we were just babies, He placed us within the most intimate of communities, our families. It is with our families that we learned to share our gifts, whether that gift was reading to a younger sibling or cousin, clearing the table and doing the dishes for Grandma, or taking out the trash for mom.
The youngest of children are the ones who really get it: we are most part of a community when we are either serving, or being served. Hopefully we are at both ends at times, so we don't either become burnt out or entitled. I think this is true whether the community we are speaking of is family, neighborhood, Church, and even cyber communities.
Service in the neighborhood could be anything as time consuming as delivering meals on wheels, or as quick as a phone call to a shut in to see how they are. It could be as difficult as organizing a food drive, or as simple as donating some canned food to that food drive. Even shoveling your own walkway so the mail carrier doesn't break his or her neck is a community service. It is the thinking of our neighbor and acting on that thought that binds us in a community, and not the mere proximity of our houses.
Some of our greatest acts of service take place at Church: prayer. I know, there are lots of ways that the Church serves others, but there is nothing that makes me feel more attached to someone in my heart than to pray for them, or to know they are praying for me. I have found myself genuinely concerned about strangers I have been asked by friends to pray for, and I have felt so weary and sad at times that I didn't even know what to say in prayer for my self and family anymore, but I felt God say in my heart "Helen, that is okay. There are so many others sending prayers for you right now. Just sit here with me and rest, and I will take care of you". THAT, my friends, is the power of a community! Years ago, when my mom was sick, and I despaired of finding the right words, I knew that God would read my heart, and hear the prayers of my Church, school, friends and family. Sometimes I would think that I just had to find a way to say it, and I would feel God say "Shh...I know...It's been said. Rest with me."
I also mentioned the cyber community earlier... How can we serve each other via the computer? You know, we do all the time. How often have we talked things through with each other via twitter? We encourage each other over the cyber waves when we have a bad day, and rejoice with each other when things go well. I love joking with each other, sharing music links, life stories, cheer, and cookie descriptions. I will also always be grateful to Wendy at @weightwhat for tweeting back and forth with me for hours the night before I was to take my husband to the hospital for tests (which turned out great by the way...) because I was worried, and friends who commiserated with me over my broken furnace. And how many times have my cyber friends and I sent requests for prayer via email back and forth?
Most people who complain about their community do so because they feel disconnected. Service, both the giving and receiving is in my opinion the best way to connect with our community. Prayer, I do believe, is the ultimate service any of us can do for one another.