you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Galatians 6:2 (NIV)
Our Pastor Bryan, Ph.D. told a cute illustration from when he was in Scotland about 40 years ago earning his doctorate.
While he was at college in Scotland, his daddy came to visit, and one of the things they enjoyed doing together was visiting the local pub. Now a pub back then in Scotland was not at all like a bar, but more like the local community hang out. This particular Pub was called, “Livingstons.” Now whenever the locals at Livingstons heard an American accent, they would make sure that their beer was on the house (the beer back then wasn’t like the beer here; for one thing it was warm, and for another it had little alcoholic content, and you would become full before you ever got a “buzz on.”) But you wouldn’t really go for the beer anyways; you would go to be a part of the local “community,” to hear all the local news, shake hands with friends–or slap them on the back– or play a game or two.
All the locals knew Pastor Bryan, Ph.D., then just Bryan, and got to know his Daddy very well also. Now Pastor Bryan, Ph.D.’s, dad was born in extreme poverty, but later became a man of abundance, and the cute part of the story was before his Daddy left Scotland to go back to America, he left the Pub owner with a 500 dollar bill–and that was 40 years ago! He told the Pub owner that the money was so that he could continue the custom of “setting someone up” with free beer!
After that, every time someone in the town would see Pastor Bryan, Ph.D. in the Pub, they would exuberantly yell, tell your Daddy we say “hi,” or they would ask how he was or tell him that they hoped his Daddy was doing well and was coming back again soon! Being such a close-knit community, word got around very fast!
That’s the way the early Church was if you can forgive the analogy. Everybody was close, and they met together often, they knew each other well and encouraged each other daily! And I could also imagine if our Church was called the Pub of Christ, attendance would skyrocket! (Oh boy, I’m bad!!!!)
Another “community” of people who are similar to the early Church is an AA meeting except that we don’t need a “higher power;” we are more than comfortable calling our faithful, mighty, all-sufficient provider and healer, “God.” The people who make up Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings have a strong connection to one another; they know everybody’s name and their life story, they confess their sins to one another, they strongly encourage one another at any time, day or night, if needed and meet together daily, breaking bread (well, o.k., eating cookies)! When someone asks you, “How are you doing?” they mean it, and they expect an explicit answer–not just a mumbled, “fine!”
As women of the Church, can we see our role in bringing the Church back to its earlier roots? God loves us for who we are, not who we might pretend to be. Let us wait and listen to other members when we ask, “How are you?” Invite newer members to our small groups, where they will be known by their name and be encouraged. And most of all, start being in community with each other like God wants!