Sunday, October 9, 2011


Sigh. I started thinking about how important community is during Sunday School today. Our group was discussing a willingness to drop everything to serve where we are called. In the book we were reading, there were lots of references to people leaving their local lives to go live someplace desperate - "doing God's work."

A young guy in our midst - someone who is artistic and passionate by nature - who is single and can't decide on a college major so is working two jobs for which he is overqualified - said he was feeling really convicted. He works 'round the clock and "doesn't really DO anything." Never mind that he led worship that morning, chose music for the service and executed it fantastically. Never mind that he is home next to his mother who is battling cancer or that he is standing next to his dad who is strained and afraid.

I felt mad.

What is it about modern culture that trains us to despise our roots? That teaches us that if we've stayed in the county in which we were born, we haven't ACCOMPLISHED anything? Screw that. So if there is any hint of the Arrogance of Youth - thinking we're too big for this small town - I will not listen passively. I tried pointing out what he does for so many so that he would take seriously the ministry he already offers, but I fear it just came across as a way to let oneself off the hook from a true "calling."

Now, I believe that people CAN be called away from the familiar. I've told my kids that we would be happy for them and encourage them in whatever path they might be called to. But I've also let them know that they should not feel pressured to believe that their responsibility is to get as far from home as possible in order to feel successful. I've let them know that it can be a smart person's faithful choice to serve mightily in the home, community and family which made them who they are.

I stewed on this topic on the five minute drive home. I stewed about it while I cut up the butternut squash for our lunch's soup. The squash and I stewed alongside each other while I cruised Facebook and pieced together the story just unfolding of a family in my town reeling from a violent incident that occurred during the night.

A couple was waiting up for their two high school aged children to come home from a school trip. Their home was invaded and both husband and wife were attacked. The wife was able to call the police but by the time they arrived, her husband was dead. He had been a respected employee of a beloved institution in our town. His wife attends a prayer group that I'm in. She was also Sophia's chess club leader in elementary school and their son is a classmate of Brooks'. We are by no means close friends, but this is a small town and they have been in our lives. I still feel stricken and heavy with the news.

That prayer group had our regularly scheduled meeting this morning. Our leader had arranged for a pastor from the host church to meet with us and help us pray. We pieced together some more information about our friend's injuries and the surgery she had the previous morning. We learned who was caring for the kids and nodded knowingly as someone mentioned how tightly-knit their neighborhood is. We all expressed the lame but very intense desire to leap to our feet and bake casseroles for them.

I wait to discern how I can best support these people appropriately. I anticipate this man's memorial service, which I know will be flooded with the people of the community, who know how to come together in a crisis. I'm eager to hear from Brooks when he gets home from his day's activities how the school acknowledged the grief in its midst.

I know I can't articulate this quite right, but maybe you can absorb my meaning when I say that this episode of violence - leading to loss and grief and a season of healing - makes me all the more stubborn on this topic. I better hear no one say that the needs Here, the community Here and what I have to offer Here, isn't important.


  1. I hope this post spreads virus-like through the ether. You said it perfectly.

    My mom brought a book home from NOAC: The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith In A Mobile Culture. I haven't started it yet but will give you a review when I'm done. The author, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, starts the introduction with this: "This is a book about staying put and paying attention. In a culture that is characterized by unprecedented mobility and speed, I am convinced that the most important thing most of us can do to grow spiritually is to stay in the place where we are."

    Yours, Forever and Amen, from Lancaster County,

  2. You are so right, DB. I'm so sorry about the couple you know - I went and googled - hadn't heard anything about it yet.

  3. No, I think you got it just right. And I agree.


I write my posts imagining that I am already in the middle of a conversation with you. I hope you will comment and be a part of the conversation.