March 6, 2012
One of us will not be here. Have you ever sat in the midst of community and realized that that exact combination of people will likely never be gathered together again? I think we often attend church and think of those who are there as the same old crowd. But communities are living organisms that grow and change and transform. One of the old crowd is not there this week, and then there is a new person, and then someone moves… a new person becomes a regular and a regular has a change in life that pulls them away. It is never the same. Nothing that is alive can stay the same.
Consider a child and how quickly they grow and transform, moving through their various cute stages acquiring new skills and losing ticks that used to melt your heart. Adults are the same, we constantly change. Look back on your life a decade ago and consider what ways you were really different then than now. A decision you couldn’t have made then may be much easier now. That is how God grows us.
Community is the same. The people we consider friends, the people we love, the people we can’t stand… all of them are in flux. They grow stronger in some areas and weaker in others. The community itself changes because the people within it change – not just which people make up the community, but the character and qualities of the those people.
When we mourn a death, we dwell on our own loss and the loss to the community. We say, “it will never be the same”. And it won’t. But it will continue, and it will grow in ways that the person who is now absent could never have imagined. They were there for one part of the whole. That whole will always be influenced by the presence of the one who is gone. Its entire trajectory may be affected by the gifts and graces, challenges and brokenness that the missing one brought while they were there.
Change does not have to be bad. We muddle through loss, we adapt to change, we find new things to excite and engage – signs that God is still at work. The next time we are together, one of us will be missing. It may be temporary or permanent. There will be new people and people who were new but now are not. It is the great flux of life. Everything flows. God is always at work making us aware that blessing is fluid, and so is community.