I read that quotation again this morning as I read Pastor Amy’s amazing article about the importance of community in the new book Gathering Together: Baptists at Work in Worship, but the truth is, I have been thinking about it for weeks and in particular these last few days. Because right now I am in a unique position to testify to the power of a community of worship.
You see, on Sunday, as I attended what will be my last worship service for a while, people of my community gathered around me and sang songs and prayed over me and laid hands upon me and hugged me. They cried with me, they smiled with me, they invited God into the events of our lives together. The liturgy was short; the love was large.
And the love continues…with notes, with cards, with flowers, with Facebook posts, with unseen prayers. And I am lucky enough to have two such communities in my life. I am truly blessed in so many ways.
So we have completed all the tasks over which we have any control — we have redecorated, we have cleaned, we have prepared. Our beloved fur child Gracie has gone to what we call the 20th Street spa, where she will be comforted and cared for by someone we trust and love. And now, we leave for Baltimore.
And so I want to take a moment and tell anyone who reads this, there is power in community. I feel loved and cared for, I feel as safe and enfolded in possibility as a person facing the events of tomorrow can. And that is all because of my community of faith, their love, and the standard of devotion to which we hold each other in times of crisis, and well, always.
I go forward to take the next step on this journey wrapped in the warmth of that community. I go forward to do what I need to do to go on serving the God I hold dear, and, if all goes well, the people around me who love that God with their whole hearts, as do I.
So I’m including a picture of the nest that I have carefully built for my recovery. When you think of me this week, yes, you can watch opera videos of me on Facebook, but I would prefer that you see me in this nest, next week, well on the road to a life that I cannot even imagine tonight as we begin the process of repair and recovery.
And I say to all of you, embrace the community around you. Because wherever two or or more gathered…well, you know how the quote ends. Just know that it is so true…