Yesterday I had lunch with a friend. In public, on a patio of course because we are experiencing a pandemic. It was good to talk of life, blood pressure, sleep patterns, relationships, past mistakes, investing, and living close enough to the church you call your own.
My friend doesn’t live all that close. He commutes on Sundays (when we gather in our building). Like most others that call our congregation their own, there is a distance traversed to worship with friends becoming family. He mentioned though noticing that many of our young members have been moving. They have been moving closer to the geographic center of the church rather than further away.
Should church be a place you drive great distances to or another part of your neighborhood? I used to have stronger opinions about the question than I do now, but the desire conveyed by my friend resonated with me. He wondered if we should hope to run into church folk in the grocery store or on walks in the neighborhood. Shouldn’t we be seen by each other as we are living, and moving, and having our being? We desire to be seen, it is part of community.
Our church is small so it would be hard to see each other in the wild in a crowded city. But that doesn’t erase the desire for it.
The tension is probably enhanced because we have experienced nearly a year of being prevented from physically being near people outside of some Sundays. We are exhausted with Zoom and want so badly to belly laugh around a bottle of wine with the whole crew. And the loss of that increases our desire to be seen and see each other wherever we are.
Build community where you. Move to community you have claimed. Perhaps it’s both, actually it is both. And trust the Lord has put you in the place he has called you. He sees you.
After I left the lunch I realized the desire myself. I ran into a member of our church on the bike trail in the afternoon and saw a dear lady in our church driving her mother a couple blocks from our house. It was good to see them and be seen.
I pray that you can find community in the same way. That you long to be closer to. That you know you belong with when you see each other. That is defined by being known by Jesus.