This is a post that may seem random and disconnected. All I can say is that, to me, it makes sense!
A couple of days ago I paid someone for something. They took out their smartphone, tapped their bank app, photographed my check, then put the phone in their pocket. “Done,” he said. “It’s deposited.”
This morning, needing to deposit a check of my own, I walked through Wake Forest’s town center where I exchanged “Man, it’s cold!” pleasantries with a couple of merchants and smiled at some people I passed on the sidewalk. Then I walked into my bank.
“Hi, Kristina,” I said as I approached the counter. “Hi, Wanda.” “Good morning, Derek,” they replied.
“How’s your dad?” Gwyn called over from her desk. “It’s been a rough week,” I replied, “but we’re doing one-day-at-a-time.” “He’ll be in my prayers,” she replied.
Real people. Relationships. Community.
Hospitals and Malls:
Wednesday turned out to be a very long day at the emergency room with my dad. We’re thankful we were able to come home late in the evening, without being admitted, but it was a grueling day nonetheless. Turning 90 comes with its own special challenges and sometimes that means a day like yesterday.
My mother – who has frequented a variety of hospitals in her lifetime, many lengthy stays often running beyond days and into weeks – noted how things have changed over the years.
“There would be a ward,” she said, “with six or eight beds each side. No button to push, you would call out, ‘NURSE!’ if you needed help. Patients would talk, and make friends, and we would help one another too.”
My mother doesn’t like the sense of isolation in modern facilities.
We picked up a similar theme talking about shopping. She commented about my dad’s jacket being from Sears and how sad it is to see the venerable retail giant in trouble. So we talked about the market forces shaping the new face of retail.
“We saw the malls come into their own right after I moved to the U.S. (1975),” I said, “and it looks like their life-cycle may already be waning.”
“Such a shame,” my mother said. “It’s another example of isolating people from one another.”
“Of course it was the malls that killed so many downtowns here in America,” I said. “Now the Internet is threatening the malls.”
It was the daily commerce of market, or the shops, that gave communities a sense of identity. People pass in the street, greet one another, stop and chat. The town center was – and sometimes still is – where community happened.
And I thought to myself no wonder we can’t get along! No wonder compromise and working things out and give and take seem to have no place in our public conversations. Because we’re not routinely having conversations, knowing one another, understanding one another from day to day in the ebb and flow of real life in real time.
We are out of the habit of community. Posting opinions online, STRONG opinions – with the barrier of cyberspace separating us, insulating us, from other people – is not community.
Build Community Where We Can!
This is why it is so critically important that we make the decision to be intentionally active (very active) members of a faith community. Because the more often we are there – showing up for worship, Wednesday dinners, Bible-study, small groups, mission activities, reaching out, serving others, recreation etc. – the more connected we will be.
I’m not talking about the kind of faith-based community where everyone thinks in lockstep and agrees with every other person about all the details of faith, or politics, or really anything at all. But simply being our authentic selves in community. Worshiping together and letting God sort out who has the highest score in terms of truth later!
Let God Sort it Out!
And, if we’re talking about God “sorting it out” later, the scores around “truth” are going to come in looking a lot like this:
- The most perfect, on-the-ball, spiritually astute Christian denomination – 25% right!
- All the other not-so-perfect Christian denominations – 22%-24% right!
- All other religions – 20%-25% right!
In other words, Jesus has stamped us “Redeemed” not “right”! We all have a long long way to go in our journey toward wholeness.
So I’m rambling. But essentially this post is about the experience of community, and how we have been called since the moment of our creation to live in community and to work things out together from the perspective of how we can make things work, not how we can demonstrate why we are right and everyone else is wrong.
Generally speaking, every “advance” in the way we live on this planet seems to separate people from one another. So let us find each other again in the context of being The Church, where we must represent and encourage God’s fundamental desire for creation, which is to live in joyful community and to find a restored relationship with our Creator.
I believe this is our mission, our opportunity, our responsibility… our joy – DEREK
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.