It always perplexed me as I read the stories in the Bible about the early church and the importance they attributed to life in community on their journey together towards Christ. It seemed like they had something I did not – even though I had friends, family and faith! It made me wonder what true community actually was and I started my journey of discovery.
Something I have found greatly encouraging within our congregation since my arrival in GP is the widespread desire for community – from Rosina’s festivals to the outstretched hands, from countless people in our faith community to the deep relationships formed in small groups. What is it about Grande Prairie Church of Christ that has left a mark on the hearts of so many that have passed through our doors? The answer to this question and my longing to discover deep rich community is found in the inner relational workings of our people.
Countless times in sorrow and in joy my family and I have experienced the love of Christ that many of you have experienced through people amongst us. This past year was difficult for us learning to balance family life with two little ones and ministry; there was a point when we weren’t sure we were going to make it. As we opened up our lives to the people around us the help was overwhelming. We are now rounding a corner in our faith, marriage, family and ministry. Forever we are changed; thank you to all of you who have sought out relationship with us, we feel like a part of this family.
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.'” These are the greatest commandments; Jesus said do this and you will truly LIVE. People here seem to have a deep desire to live in a way that is not of this world – and we catch glimpses of this desire in everyday life. You see this other-worldly way of life in a young woman who takes the time to volunteer at Odyssey House or an older man who takes the time to teach a youth how to work on a car. I believe that we were given a gift of life to the full if we so choose it!
When Jesus showed us how we should pray, he said: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Here we can be inclined to believe that God has a desire for us to experience a heaven-like community here on earth and not just experience it but to fully engage for the benefit of ourselves, our families, our friends and the people of our city. Here we become not just another organization that has programs that help people but “a beacon on a hill” that people can’t help but come to experience.
My challenge to you is this; how can you contribute to this idea of “heaven-like community”? Could it be as simple as opening up your life to those around you and taking relational opportunities with people as they present themselves?