|The first 6 inches|
This week I continue my reflections on community and individualism. Where I live is experiencing a blizzard, which is dropping more snow than the area is accustomed to. As a result, the roads are not presently examples of 'ideal driving conditions'.
Last evening, glancing out the window, I noticed a van in the ditch across the street. I could have ignored it, but out I went, bundled up, to start pushing - as did a few others, including one man who was driving past, and one neighbour from the next block who brought his truck and used the hitch was able to pull the stranded van out of said ditch.
As this was happening, another car had come up the street, and realising he couldn't get past, rolled down his window to shout out a few unkind assessments of the van's driver's abilities and capacities, before dramatically spinning his wheels to reverse down the street.
The driver of the van had not, obviously, chosen to go into the ditch. He was a stranger to the neighbourhood. I noted the extreme difference in reaction to this man's need for help.
For those of us willing to push, we got no benefit from it. We just knew that someone needed help, and we did what we could to provide it. We trusted that if we were in the same situation, someone else would help us as well.
For the vocal commentator, however, his vehement response suggested that this inconvenience was an intentional slight against him and his plans.
There's a driveway under there...
In less extreme examples (one hopes!), in the church we can see similar behaviours and reactions. We all come to God in need; we all come to God with God-given gifts. As community, we are called to reach out to everyone around us, celebrating their gifts and supporting their needs - and to know that we are likewise being celebrated and supported.
It takes effort and intentionality to put our own needs and preferences aside in order to help someone else - yet that is how we build community. At any given time, someone in our midst, in our pews, may bear a tortured soul or hurting spirit - their emotional van is inadvertently in a ditch. They could benefit from the love of God being extended to them, whether they ask for help or not.
This is what we are called to do as Christians, as community: to love one another as God has loved us. To reach out the helping hand as we are able. To provide what we can, as what we have has been given to us. I hope we consider, in our own churches and lives, how we might live this Christian community, and overcome the scourge of individualism.