This morning a dear friend invited me out to some fellowship time with several people I didn't know, had never met, and with whom I had little in common. The introvert in me, of course, was hesitant to go. But the prospect of spending time with my friend Kelly (not to mention treating her to an overdue birthday cup of coffee) was certainly reason enough to spend an hour with folks I didn't know.
I'm so glad I went. It was lovely to see Kelly, but it was also so healthful and refreshing to be in community, even if it was a community that to which I had no particular affinity.
The lead pastor at Imago Dei, where I used to attend church and which was a great spiritual home for several years, once preached about how too often we choose our acquaintances and friends based only on having affinity with them, or something in common. This was why, he said, at Imago they had decided to organize the home communities (small groups meeting weekly in people's homes) by geographical location rather than by type (singles, young families, retirees, etc.)
There's nothing wrong with hanging out with people who share your interest or station in life. In fact, it's a huge blessing, because you have so much to share and communicate to each other. I like spending time around other moms of young kids; we get it. I think it is why most of the blogs I follow are blogs of moms who have at least one (or maybe more) little ones running around the place, and the moms themselves are all around my age, give or take 5 years in either direction.
The danger of only doing affinity groups, though, is that you miss out on the important offerings of those who are different than you. Maybe they are from a different income bracket; maybe a different age; different upbringing, location, or calling in life: yet there is always something I gain from being around others.
The group today was nearly entirely comprised of people who are over 60 (besides Kelly, although she is also older than I am). They were so pleased to see a little baby and doted on Ben, and shared reminiscences of their own children's youth and stories about their great-grandkids. They spoke of where they had lived in their lives. They just made small talk of an entirely different kind than the small talk you hear among moms of young ones. It was nice, getting outside of myself and my experience.
Getting outside of myself: isn't that the daily call of a Christian? To get outside of my ego (which I've heard referred to humorously as standing for Easing God Out) and step into fellowship with others; to put aside the "old man" and put on Christ, being a new creation. The old is past, the new is come.
And, for something entirely different, here's some other community we enjoy on a daily basis.
This is the view outside of our window right now:
|Security chickens checking in (or should I say "chicken in?")|
Okay, I'll stop with the bad puns now, I promise. Don't want to drive away my readership.