I can hear the wind howling outside. Two nights ago, the gusts were almost scary as a storm rolled in. The living room shades rattled and flapped. Papers flew off the printer and desk. The bedroom doors slammed shut.
We were in the midst of putting Isabelle to bed, and I knew the storm would hit soon. Although she sleeps soundly in her own room, in her own bed, I wanted to hold her close and sleep in the same room. And I wanted to keep Corban with us in the living room. Something about severe weather makes me want to hunker down, huddle up and stick together till the storm passes.
I wonder if we aren’t made this way — to crave community when the going gets tough. Our need for each other never seems to be more clear than in a time of crisis or great need. Think natural disaster, terminal illness, financial hardship or severe weather, to name a few.
We’ve been talking about and studying community for the last several weeks in Sunday School, and we were asked to share how we were welcomed into the community — the geographical and spiritual — because we moved from the Midwest to the mid-Atlantic. I had a hard time voicing my feelings on this subject because we felt very welcome, and we generally find people to be friendly and engaging. We know quite a few people, but we don’t know them well. Sometimes I think I have more of a bond with the nurses from our birthing unit than the people in our church. But maybe it goes back to the crisis and time of need idea.
The people I feel the closest to in my life are those with whom I’ve shared large chunks of life or something significantly out of the ordinary. I’ll always feel a bond with my maternity ward nurses, even if I don’t remember their names or faces, because they walked me through recovery and first-time mom worries.
I wonder if it’s like this for other people in church, even people who have been going to church together for decades. Maybe it’s just me. And I wonder if the church doesn’t need more crises, more significant moments, more life together in order to demonstrate the kind of bond and love that Jesus intended. I think of the disciples and how they held together after Jesus’ death, before they knew what had really happened, and how they held together after that, even when they faced extreme opposition.
At Bible study this week, we were reminded of this verse in 1 Peter: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (4:8, NIV) We were challenged and encouraged to protect and defend our Christian brothers and sisters from outside attack and to stand close together to not leave room for evil’s entry.
I don’t like storms, neither the ones that bring physical rain, thunder, lightning and hail nor the ones that bring pain, turmoil, confusion and despair into people’s lives, but if they’re necessary to form bonds that can’t be broken, then I have to be willing to let them come.
They will know we are Christians by our love. That’s my prayer. That the church will more evidently show itself as a people who rally around the defeated, pick up those who have stumbled, walk alongside the wandering, protect the weak and defend the weary. And in the process, maybe we’ll find ourselves a little tighter.