And behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus…and they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.
I have a simple sign above the bookshelves in my dining room.
It is just one word, “gather”, but that one word speaks volumes to my heart.
I am not naturally good at “gathering”. As an introvert, I work best in small groups (and by this I mean one on one). My idea of a perfect Friday evening is a good book, a cup of something warm, and a comfy place to curl up. I often fill the silence when meeting new people with awkward questions and feeble attempts at humor. Sometimes these tactics work, like the year in Junior High where I offered to share a square of American Cheese with a stranger (who later became a life long friend) and other times this strategy falls flat; like the time I told my doctor I could read his messy handwriting “just fine because I have a ten-year-old son at home so I have plenty of practice.”
This kitchen sign, it does not give me the “warm fuzzies”, it challenges me to grow in ways that often feel uncomfortable.
Although my “gather” is a trendy sign, I did not choose it for its popularity, but because it reminds me of what I am learning to do.
Live in Community.
God, Jesus & the Holy Spirit, they are always living in community with one another. When we were created, we were made to exist in relationship with God and with each other. Just because we are no longer living in Eden doesn’t mean we aren’t made for that community any longer. It just means that sometimes that community can be more difficult to enter into.
I am learning that this gathering, this act of community, it is so vital to our personal relationship with Jesus.
The effort and difficulty it can sometimes cause are worth the reward.
In community we can help each other, we can encourage one another, caution one another, teach, learn, laugh, belong and grow together.
It is in this community that we can see the heart of God.
This is why I love conference days.
Conference day is one day to meet together and to share. To learn, to encourage and perhaps hear a story that makes your heart say, “Wait-you, too?” It is a day to celebrate God’s faithfulness, to rejoice in restoration and to kneel in repentance and release.
It is a day to truly gather and a day where Jesus draws near.
In our world today where community is often as artificial as that pseudo-cheese I offered up decades ago in Junior High, true community is even more precious, even more worth the time and effort it takes to make it happen.
I encourage you to spend time “gathering” this week.
I encourage you to take time out, put away any distractions or delays, and meet with at least one other fellow Believer.
I am confident you won’t be disappointed.