Two weeks ago, our organist went into the hospital. He had arrived at church that Sunday morning, but to all who looked upon him, it was clear that he was not in good health. He was sweaty and lethargic. He could hardly stand, let alone concentrate. Expressing our concern for him, and doing my duty as ‘the boss,’ I instructed him that he needed to go home, or possibly to the hospital. He did, and at the start of the service we all bowed our heads in prayer for his healing and safety.
This past Sunday, there was a note left for our organist in his church mail box. The note was clearly written by one of our Sunday-school aged parishioners, who wanted to express their concern for him, and their prayer that he get better. This was not a project in Sunday school. It was not suggested by a parent that they write a get well note. The note was spontaneous: a pure expression of prayer filled care for the organist. In case you cannot read the writing in the picture, this is what the note says:
Dear Doug. I hope you are feeling better. God bless you and keep you, always to shine on you. (happy face, church, heart).
There are moments where the church is exactly what Christ has called it to be: this is one of those moments. This small note, so beautifully penned, is a profound illustration of what community is all about. It is a faith-fueled and spirit-filled expression of the care of one person to another. The misspelling and the drawings express the purity of this young one’s desire to pray down the blessings of God upon the one who leads the music at their church. How beautiful is it that this young one blessed our organist with ancient words? It is a poignant illustration that this weekly blessing, said over them at the communion rail, has become so rooted deep within them that it has formed their very understanding and language of the church. And when they wanted express their hope that God would touch someone just as much as God has touched them, these are the words that are found waiting. This not does not just show the blessing of the young to the old, but it shows how much this child experiences the blessings of the community of faith in their own individual life.
Community: true, authentic, Spirit-filled community, occurs when our lives of faith are so intertwined that care for one another crosses all human boundaries and barriers. We are called to be a people joined together in faith: young and old, rich and poor, male and female. The church lives out the blessedness of its own calling when such care for one another becomes the natural and free expression of our life together. A blessed community is one where the love of God for one another is not just something we say of ourselves, but is something live out together.
This is where true community is lived. This is where the church rightly exists. The blessedness of the church, living as the church is called to live, is not about our programs or our numbers. It is simply when we share our lives together. The blessedness of community happens when adult parishioners delight in caring for our younger members, allowing them to explore and create, and to remind us that we are all children before our Heavenly Father. When adults delight in the cries and the giggles interrupting the sermon, when they value a toddler singing during the prayer of confession, or when they feel blessed by a child’s excitement about God as they run or skip down the centre aisle, then the church is what it is called to be. When kids care for adult parishioners as important members in their tiny, but meaningful worlds; when kids feel so comfortable within the community that they begin to notice when someone is missing; when they, out of pure expression of their love for the church, write a note of blessing to another, then the church is fueled by a divine fire that can’t help but be spread through all members.