I had a great afternoon making new friends. Our church has started an Art Guild that meets a couple of Saturdays a month, and today was the day. We made cedar-filled sachets to sell at our Christmas bazaar later in the year. I like making things with my hands, but more important to me was spending a couple of hours with my daughter making new friends and getting to know other women in our church. Afterwards, some of us went to lunch together, too.
The writer of Hebrews said in Hebrews 10:24-25, "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching."
When I was at home with my parents, I was at church for everything - and I mean EVERY thing. If there was any assembling at all, we did not forsake it. As I married and left home, I have always been active in the church. My husband and I have always been active in our churches, but the degrees to which we have been active have varied.
The last 8-9 years have been very trying for me spiritually and up until the last year, I have felt very disconnected from the Christian community like a stray thread on a sweater at risk of being plucked off and discarded at any moment, not really wanted and not really a part of the whole. It wasn't so much that I felt unwanted by God (although the thought did cross my mind periodically). I didn't feel as though I had a place in the community.
And because I didn't feel I had a place, I stopped trying. I forsook the assembling together in a different way than we usually mean. I showed up for church every Sunday, but that's not all the writer of Hebrews meant.
He said that the purpose in being together is to encourage each other, to stir each other up to do good works and to love each other. The word usually translated as "stir up" can also be translated "paroxysm" or "convulsion". How interesting the world would be if we had seizures of good works! Like an epileptic patient who could not control his episodes (after all there were not treatments in 1st century), we should be hopelessly overtaken with the need to do the work of God.
Exhortation means to encourage, and that requires that you help others to see how the power of God can be applied to their lives. To do that, you have to be a part of that life. Exhortation without personal knowledge of the exhortee is just a recitation of platitudes and motivational buzzwords. There's nothing miraculously spiritual about it. It's only showmanship and it's just fake. But if someone who knows me as an individual can help me to see how God's love and power is at work in my life, that is miraculous, welcome, and encouraging.
Anyway, to end my story, I'm making a conscious effort to make sure that I'm involved in the community that is my church, that I'm not just as observer, not just showing up for Sunday morning take-away, but I'm connected to a community of believers. And I'm loving it.
anything but typical
P.S. Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!! I bet you thought I forgot.