One of my favorite places on God’s earth is to be seated in Section 36, Row 1, Seat 4 of Fenway Park in Boston, home of the Red Sox baseball team.
This magical place has survived 108 years of American history and weathered tremendous challenges, all within its huge green walls with worn red bricks.
From April to October, win or lose, every home game takes a break in the eighth inning so the entire stadium can stand and sing Sweet Caroline together.
“Hands, touching hands, reaching out…”
It’s an amazing phenomenon to experience and it never gets old. The Yankee fan who hated you moments ago, the older woman who hasn’t said a word the entire game, and that one relentless kid who will just not stop begging for a foul ball, all come together for that two and a half minutes—to sing, join hands, and smile. As one. With little in common except their love for the game and their temporary proximity. But for those few minutes? They become family.
Sadly, that hasn’t been the case in this unpredictable and surprising summer of 2020. While we are sorely missing our freedom to pursue what we love to do or gather as we want to, we trust this ends soon!
But what will remain? What will be the new normal? More importantly, what will we have learned through this? Were we the hands and feet of God—or the loudest voice on social media? Did we grumble and murmur in this wilderness of masks, hand sanitizer and long lines? Or did we find unique opportunities to truly form community?
Community. For me personally, that word has taken on new meaning. Before February, community was a trending word. A design aspect. A social model with all the vibes of noisy, pretentious coffee bars and trendy outdoor cafes. Not my thing at all.
Then something called self-quarantine locked us in our homes and shut the door on life as we knew it. For the first few weeks my introvert nature was pretty content. No hugging? No problem. Can’t gather in large crowds? I’m good.
But driving through my neighborhood, past rows of closed doors with no signs of life inside, I felt the Lord pressing quietly on my heart. There are hurting people behind those doors.
We who look to God’s Word for guidance know that God created us for community and to love one another. In fact, God Himself models community: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Three as One.
As beings created in God’s image, we are designed for community, for fellowship with one another as we walk with Him.
The Bible gives us beautiful examples of believers serving each other. Urging his fellow workers in the ministry, Paul could say, “I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’”(Acts 20:35 NLT).
Community. Service. Love. Romans 12:5 makes it clear this is God’s design, God’s command for us. “So it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.”
We are called to love one another.
And if ever there was a time to stretch beyond our comfort zone, reaching out to the people God has placed in your proximity, it is now. These are divisive times, marked with violence and hatred. So much pain and suffering is coming at us twenty-four hours a day. But we have hope, and help.
As Christians, we’ve been given the Spirit of God, we seek to have the heart of God. The world really needs this love now. We need this God-created community to break through the me-first message that the world is giving.
Martin Luther King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. And hatred cannot drive out hatred. Only love can do that.”
Powerful words not just for posting, but for living. Words that require action on our part.
No one knows how long this will last. Lord willing, we’re in the eighth inning of this season of sickness. Hopefully, we’ll soon be able to gather again as one, unrestricted to worship, extend hands, breathing and singing out praises to God mask-free. But until that day? Your own world needs you.
Who, around you, needs His touch?
A note of encouragement, a knock at the door, a gift, a smile, a phone call to ask how they’re doing. This hurting world needs something real, something sincere. They need the message of hope.
You have that to give.