A Simple Touch
Definition of Community: A community is like a big family---but blood family you are stuck with, while a community is a family that you get to pick. Think about how many times we use a part of the word community: commune--a place where people live together, we commune with each other; we observe Jesus' sacrifice by taking communion. To me, Genesis is a big community, a big family that I get to pick.
Some years back I was in a very dark and lonely place. I was working a full time job, managing my small family and home and we were taking care of 4 people in my husband's family and one in mine. Physical and emotional stamina were ebbing quickly. Many days my prayer was: Lord, give me strength just to get through this day.
We had not been attending church regularly and I missed it a lot. And I thought it was time for us to come back. It seemed like I couldn't get anyone in my family to come with me. So after trying a number of weeks to get someone to come I decided I was going to attend even if I had to go by myself. So I did.
You know how when you feel isolated, everything you do tends to feed that. The more you feel isolated, the more you withdraw; the more you withdraw, the more isolated you are. It's a vicious circle.
I would slip into the sanctuary slightly late---so I didn't have to talk to anyone, sit on the back row, and I could get out quickly. Still not having to talk with anyone. This went on for several weeks.
Now, we were in the habit of holding hands during the Lord's prayer then.
One Sunday I was particularly low and came in again deliberately slightly late as usual, and the back row was full. How dare they! I moved into the next row down, breathed a sigh of relief as there was no one else on the row so I wouldn't have to talk to anyone or hold hands. Time came for the prayer; we bowed our heads and when we began the Lord's prayer this enormous hand came up from the row behind me and clapped me on the shoulder. It scared me so badly I nearly jumped off the pew. I think I believed the hand of God was on me. And the hand just stayed there through the WHOLE prayer.
But here's the thing--in that moment I knew that I was NOT alone. I was NOT alone.
I was surrounded by people who loved me and cared about me. My big family of choice, my Genesis community.
A couple of weeks ago I attended one of the TED talks about life changing moments. The touch of this giant hand was one of those for me. Part of the TED talk was about thanking those persons who have had that kind of impact. Two weeks ago I thanked the man who was on the other end of the arm that held the giant hand. I told him then that I would tell him why today. I am sure he does not remember that small gesture and certainly did not know the impact it had on me. And now he knows the story and I wonder if he recognizes himself.
Oh, would you like to know whose hand it was?
The man with the hand is Dick George.
As a result of the inclusiveness I felt that Sunday, when I see someone by themselves in church, if I can get to them I do. If they are a member, I clap them on the shoulder or give them a hug; if they are visiting, I try to be a bit more gentle.
And just so you know,
There is no other place I would rather be than right here, right now, sharing this with you, my Genesis community and the mission field we are called to serve.