Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Community cares…

For Plymouth Creek, October saw a good deal of good church. We had fun, fellowship and success with our chili cook-off and auction. Receipts so far total over $4,000, with more coming in, the best such fundraiser I’ve seen yet! Sincere thanks to Sharon for her leadership, along with help that Deb and Tabitha provided. And thanks to everyone who donated, bid, ate chili and enjoyed the day. Bravo! Ironic thanks to Richard for leading the charge to shave my head. I’m tempted to make our next fundraiser a beard shaving event…just sayin’!

Anyway, we prepared for that event with a trip to Feed My Starving Children the day before. Service mixed with fellowship, exactly how church should be. Thanks to the Weavers for setting that up, and for all who joined the team. And three cheers for another good year for the community garden, our third in total. It’s closed now for the winter; thanks to Al and Kimberly for their hard work.

Sadly, church isn’t simply the fun events, the service days, the weekly worship. It’s also about bearing witness to God’s eternal promises when a community member dies. We had two deaths last month, in two days- Ruth and Pat, beloved women each. Thanks to Jeremae and LeAnn for their musical offerings to Pat’s Memorial service, and to the many who arranged chairs and flowers, brought cookies and bars, and otherwise ensured full hospitality for that sad, but beautiful, day.

Triumph and heartbreak, welcome and loss. Church can sometimes feel rollercoaster-like, amen?! I, for one, was exhausted that Sunday afternoon- emotionally, bodily, spiritually. But I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I doubt you would too. All that stuff- service, giving, laughing, loving, celebrating life’s fullness- it’s why church matters. It’s why we keep coming. It’s what honors and brings us closer to God.

Notice how many names I made an effort to thank specifically in those first few paragraphs. Had I space, I’d list many more. We can’t do any of this alone. And we don’t, praise the good Lord. It’s not like one person makes our church happen. I saw people who barely knew Pat take hours out of their days off to honor her memory. I saw long-time members who’ve given so much already participate with gusto in our auction and service. Truly, the spirituality of our church isn’t just personally focused; it’s not just about self-realization. It’s community driven, an always evolving exercise in gathering and being good partners through Christ’s love.

I like that definition of spirituality. It gets me to think broader than solo prayer or personal retreats. As much as I like that stuff and think it deepens my spiritual growth, it’s wise to admit that’s not sufficient. We grow spiritually when we help others, tear down tables, clean the kitchen after a funeral. In the giving of our time and efforts to serve a bigger purpose, our spirits expand. We grow.

It reminds me of an annual event to come in November- IOCP’s Community Sleep Out. You’ll remember that this yearly campaign raises funds for our local human services provider and good partner IOCP, i.e. the agency that most helps nearby neighbors in need. Starting with a prayer walk (5pm) and block party (6pm) at IOCP on Saturday, November 9 (which, by the way, I’m helping lead and emcee…), the Sleep Out will continue through the year’s end with various events and chances to give. The point, of course, is that no one person can end homelessness or poverty. But if enough good people of good will work together in our community, incredible things can happen.

IOCP’s director likes to say, “There’s nothing more powerful than a community that discovers what it cares about.” I think that’s true, when I see the broader community give to help poor neighbors, when I see you work together to honor God and love each other. Being a community that cares isn’t always easy; sweat and tears are occasional requirements. But it’s better than not caring. Because it nurtures that most divine of all God’s gifts- Love.

Grace and Peace,


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