BY MICHELLE WILLIAMS, GRACE ATTENDER & BLOGGER
Looking back at the times when both of our children were born, we were surrounded by community. Our family and friends waited in anticipation to shower us with a special brand of love the very moment our children arrived. Seems that this has been the custom for some time, certainly well before Mary gave birth to her son, Jesus.
But when Joseph and Mary realized that their moment was upon them, they were far from their own community. They couldn’t even find a bed to sleep in that night, and the only place for their new baby to rest his head was in a trough belonging to the cattle. Being the empathetic person I am, I can only imagine I might have felt just a little deflated in that moment.
As unlikely as Joseph and Mary were to find community that night, they actually did. Quite literally a “godsend,” some shepherds showed up out of nowhere with nothing but praise for their new child, proclaiming that an angel of the Lord sent them. And even though the couple had never met these shepherds before that night, something powerful happened in the midst of their newfound community: Mary’s hope and faith in God were strengthened.
18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.
God calling the shepherds to go to the birth of Jesus is a compelling illustration of His regard for the importance of community. Community holds an awesome power to amplify hope and faith, which is true in times of celebration and in times of despair. God wasn’t about to let Joseph, Mary and Jesus spend that first Christmas night alone. He brought community to them in circumstances when they may have least expected it—and maybe when they needed it most.
And so is His promise to us. The church is a community of followers who still gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. At Grace Church, we come together as the body of Christ and warmly welcome all who come through our doors. When we extend the invitation for others to join us, we fulfill His promise and amplify hope throughout the world.
This Christmas and throughout the coming year, let’s follow God’s lead and invite others into this rich and wonderful community. Those you invite may not be expecting it. They may not know they need it. But when they experience the hope and harbor that comes with being part of a radiant community, they just might wonder how they ever lived without it.
Real Stories of Community
Want to see how God is moving in community through people right here at Grace? See some of these incredible stories:
Curtis Honeycutt [video |
Tasha Burgoyne: The Moms Group I Was Terrified Of
Bob Loy: Fight Club
Katie Foley: What's Your Kara
Matt MacDougall: Iron Sharpens Iron
Tasha Burgoyne: The One Invitation
Rick Mile: I Was Their 1
Maggie & Michael Perry: Loved Through Highs & Lows