Monday, February 05, 2007

"Love One Another"

I have really started thinking during communion every Sunday. I always think, but the last two weeks have really been eye opening for me. Last Sunday I had what has to be the best experience of what true community means during the Lord’s Supper. Here’s what I mean:

As the bread and wine were passed, these were the people sitting around me: To my right was my best friend – a man that I have gone to Zambia with twice. We have shared so many good and bad experiences it would take pages to recall everything. His wife and daughter were sitting to his right – also people that I have traveled to Africa with. Friendships like this are born out of true companionship in times of extreme hardship. In front of me was Holly – my darling wife. We clasped hands and prayed together. We have been married for 8 years and we are expecting our first child in 4 weeks! Holly has been a pillar of strong and steadfast support for a long time. She is a soothing, calming influence on my very restless personality. I would be a loose canon without her! I love her more than words can express here. Sitting next to Holly, on her right, were my parents. A month ago the three of us returned from South Africa. This was the first time mom and dad have been “home” in 13 years. That’s a long time to be away from family. In 1994 my parents gave up a nice house, a successful business, stability, and family to bring their 3 sons to America for a better life. “Better” is an interesting term. Has life been “better” for us? Yes! Has life been easier? No. My parents work harder than anyone else I have seen – and there were moments (actually years) when all that hard work seemed for nothing. Since we have been here my mom has lost her mother, 3 siblings, and 2 nephews. As we stood in the airport and wept with family, it really hit me how much they gave up. And then there’s Jennifer. She was sitting next to Holly, on the left. Jennifer is the closest friend we have. She’s closer than family. We have been friends with Jennifer for some time now, but last September her husband Chad got killed in a terrible car wreck. They were only married for 9 months, and she was 6 months pregnant. Four weeks ago she gave birth to a beautiful girl – Emmalee. Holly was in the delivery room. Soon afterward I gazed through the nursery window with tears in my eyes. Since then I have become so attached to this little girl. Jennifer says she could not have made it through the past few months without us – I think that Jennifer has blessed us more than she can know right now. Anyway, the situation is pretty simple – if anyone messes with Jennifer or Emmalee, I break their knees! Just taking care of widows and orphans like the Bible says. As we broke bread together, as we remembered Christ together, as we took hope for the future, surely this was what Jesus had in mind when he said, “Love one another.”

Okay, fast-forward a week. The next week I had a different experience. Without going into too much detail here, we are having some friction at church – elders and deacons and ministers with some antagonism towards each other about a lot of little things. Plus, we have a very diverse membership. We have very “conservative” people who can’t handle any change, and “progressive” people who can’t stand the inertia much longer. These were the people I broke bread with. Together we laid our burdens and pride at the foot of the cross. Surely this is what it means to “properly discern the body of Christ.” We (the church) are the body of Christ. God Bless.

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