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What "Doing Life Together" Means to Me

By all accounts, I am an introvert. I confess that as the initial safer-at-home order was made, I was not all that unhappy. In truth, I felt a bit relieved at the cancelations in my busy schedule and the chance to have more time at home with my daughters. As time passed and the safer-at-home orders were extended again and again, the situation became far less of a relief, even for me.

Like it has for so many others, this season has brought to light some of the troubles we had ignored at home, the brokenness in ourselves and our relationships. My husband ended up in a recovery program, the two of us met with a marriage therapist (over video chat), and my daughter began counseling. More than six months down these roads to recovery, we have all fared pretty well.  I am grateful for the professional help we were able to access and for programs in the community and at church that grounded us with wisdom and faith.

I also have to credit the steadfast love of dear friends. You and I both know that it is in our most difficult days when we become keenly aware of our need for others.  Unfortunately, it is also in these moments of hardship that we may learn of our relational lack. There are some friends who do not feel equipped or obligated to stand by us in our pain.  More often, though, we discover the friendships we failed to nurture while we were busy working and family relationships we allowed to grow cold.  These can leave us feeling awkward about asking for help or, worse, with no one to call.

Thankfully, our church family has been a place to "plug in" over the years, to serve and support others on our good days and to assist others in their times of need. It has also been home to small groups and prayer teams, to Bible studies and baptisms and weddings where we could build friendship and celebrate the milestones of life with one another.  This is the value of "Doing Life Together". It is the one-another that Paul urges throughout his letters using the greek word allelon.  Author Gordon Fee summarizes the concept:

"Everything is done allelon.  They are members of one another (Rom 12:5; Eph 4:25), who are to build up one another (1 Thess 5:11; Rom 14:19), to care for one another (1 Cor 12:25), to love one another (1 Thess 3:12, 4:9; 2 Thess 1:3; Rom 13:8), to pursue one another's good (1 Thess 5:15), to bear with one another in love (Eph 4:2), to bear one another's burdens (Gal 6:2), to be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another (Eph 4:32; cf. Col 3:13), to submit to one another (Eph 5:21), to consider one another better than ourselves (Phil 2:3; cf. Rom 12:10), to be devoted to one another in love (Rom 12:10), to live in harmony with one another (Rom 12:16)."

We are meant to be connected to and supportive of one another.  Even without a theological argument, we instinctively know that both celebrations and disappointments are made better with some friends around.  That is what "Doing Life Together" means to me...that I have some people to share life with and that I get the privilege of sharing their life's highs and lows too.  

While keeping our physical distance has made life look different, we still can share together in so many of the really important ways.  I have not made so many posters since elementary school, but signs in support of health care workers and our neighbors of color and signs celebrating major milestones for drive-by celebrations have become hallmarks of the modern one-another spirit.  Likewise, I have had to embrace technology for video chats rather than hug people in person.  I know more about lighting and selfies than I ever wanted to know, but these tools have helped me stay connected just as much as any other support network.  

As much as I would like to think that the end is in sight, I know it is unpredictable even for the experts.  So, even in this new year, "Doing Life Together" will continue to be largely virtual.  Fortunately, church and groups, counseling and coffee with friends, even movie watching can all be done virtually.  One of the virtual opportunities we have as a church family in this season is to join together in study.  There is a companion study to the next sermon series--beginning this weekend--that everyone can download and use.  The free booklet will allow all of us to dive deeper into the topics each week as we learn together about Spiritual Practices for Ordinary People.  

Check the booklet out here and join a group if you wish.  Watch for pastors and leaders to be talking about the study across social media and join in the conversation there, or take the opportunity to reach out and invest in a relationship with friends and family.  

If you are new to our church family and ready to start Doing Life Together, Starting Point is, well, a good place to start, and registration is open for the next class coming February 7th!

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