What a blessing it is to have a close spiritual friend, actually a couple of them or a handful of them, with whom one can share the joys and hurts of life! There are some of us, (okay, Sisters, you know who you are) who process emotions and seek understanding by talking things through out loud. When our hearts and minds include our ears in hearing and our tears and facial muscles in expressions of laughter or pain, and our eyes in seeing the empathy of a loving and compassionate friend, there is something miraculous that happens. Emotions get processed better by the brain. Sleep comes more easily. Weights of anxiety are lifted. Hope is renewed. Resilience is strengthened. Faith is affirmed. God is present. And he will often speak into the situation with some new insight, word of encouragement, and the comfort of his presence. Such is the power of community. As Christ said in Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Embodying the presence of Christ in confidential Christian conferencing is a special privilege. But one doesn’t need to spend years in graduate school or seminary to receive the blessing of that gift. One needs only to be present to Christ and be open to being used by him in such healing tasks. I’ve known some who were so close to Christ that he used them that way easily and regularly in what appeared to be even the most casual conversations. I first experienced it in the Emmaus Movement. I still see it operate there among laity and clergy every time we get together. And I seek to be present to his presence in the Christian counseling that I do with broken women and in the friendships God has given me. “Do not forsake the gathering together, as some have done.” (Hebrews 10:24-26) It doesn’t just mean that we are to gather to worship, celebrate, hear the word, and share communion on Sunday. We are to gather in his name, 2 or 3 or more, in small groups to bring the incarnation of his Spirit to one another in love and fellowship. Find a small group. Ask about an Emmaus Walk. Pray for the Lord’s fellowship to be present in fellowship with his people.
5 weeks ago we restarted the Depression Impact Group that had met from 1998 to 2004 at LHUMC. It’s having 12-14 gather each Tuesday and we are blessed by experiencing the fellowship of Christ in our midst. Start a group….men, women, or couples….to study, to encourage, to share, to do life in Christ together! Our young people, especially those in senior high school and college age and single need leadership to experience this kind of spiritual intimacy……A mother talked to me (close to tears) about her child desiring such fellowship in a group. Where are other Titus 2 men and women (and I don’t mean those who will support my residential recovery efforts) who will take on the task of teaching and mentoring those who are newer in the faith? Have we gotten complacent, fat and happy, in our own spiritual plenty? It’s not for us, folks. It’s so that we may reach out to others, draw them in, and feed them. Perhaps our gluttony, evident in the crisis of obesity and diabetes among us in the church as well as in the culture is a physical representation of the spiritual gluttony we can fall into, as well……We’re feasting instead of sharing the Lord’s banquet with others who are waiting to be invited in.