“The problem with the world is we draw the circle of our family too small.”

Mother Teresa

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I grew up in a cluster of community. At the center of our world lived my Granny and Papa, around the bend, my aunt, uncle, and best cousin friend. Under the hill, there was us, a father, my Mama, my brother, and a baby sister, not yet old enough to tag along.  Down the road a piece, lived a handful of cousins, and the matriarch, my great-grandmother.

She was as wide as I was tall in those days, wearing an apron and perpetually dipping snuff. I was afraid of her, the steely glint in her eye, leaving no doubt about her rules on the days we spent rambling about her place. Not to mention the fact, she had thoroughly convinced us Ole Man Rawly Bones lived upstairs. I was forever distracted by the attic window, trembling in fear, thinking he was there watching us. I can hear the many chuckles she must have had over this.

She was first out the door with a dipper of water, a dip of snuff to tend our bee stings, and orange peanut candy.

In the center of us, sat the little country store, where if we had a penny, or a nickel, we would all share a small brown bag brimming over with candy. We sat on the curb and kicked rocks with our converse sneakered feet, giggling as we shared our treats.

On cold and snowy days we gathered at my Granny’s, drank hot cocoa, ate pound cake, played cards, Scrabble, and Chinese Checkers.

When the summer sun browned our skin and freckled noses, there was a throng of bicycles circling the neighborhood from dawn to dusk. Pausing, place to place, gathering peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and swilling grape Kool-Aid. Collecting old brooms and mops to use as microphones, pedaling hard up and down a rural road in search of a stage on which to perform.

Innocence, community, sharing; grace in the cracks, at its finest. To borrow a phrase, “It truly was the glory days of of our youth.” A circle of family.

We were not sheltered from all things bad, some saw it, some experienced it, and some of us lived in it. But, what we had was the sweetest gift of “hearts mutually linked together.” 

Every believer was faithfully devoted to following the teachings of the apostles. Their hearts were mutually linked to one another, sharing communion and coming together regularly for prayer. ~Acts 2:42 The Passion Translation

As I read these words, I circle a few. Every, devoted, mutually linked, communion, coming together regularly for prayer.

I have to wonder where in this unholy world would we be, if only we still lived like this. If only. I turn these words over and over in my heart. I am led back to this:

 “And as we go about our day, our hearts bump into the hearts of others, and we write a message on their hearts as well. When we write God’s grace words, we build up, love, and encourage the people we encounter. It gives me pause to think of the hearts I have written on today…Will my marks on their hearts point others to Him?” Stacey Thacker from Fresh Out of Amazing

I pen grace words on the page, or at the very least, I hope I do. When I read Acts 2:42, I have to wonder, am I living this? Am I truly leaving grace words on hearts, or merely going through the actions of putting them on the page? There is more to community than simply saying the right thing, there is the component of stepping out of my comfort zone and following through with action. Taking the word devoted, digging deeper, here is what I learned. It denotes commitment, commitment to continually do (emphasis mine), something with intense effort. Community takes effort. Community is not just taking, something I am terrible guilty of, but also giving. Let’s trace the words a little farther down the page.

A deep sense of holy awe swept over everyone, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. All the believers were in fellowship as one body, and they shared with one another whatever they had. Out of generosity they even sold their assets to distribute the proceeds to those who were in need among them. Daily they met together in the temple courts and in one another’s homes to celebrate communion. They shared meals together with joyful hearts and tender humility. They were continually filled with praises to God, enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord kept adding to their number daily those who were coming to life. ~Acts 2:43-47

In my growing up days there was not a closed door to be found anywhere in the neighborhood. It never seemed to make a difference which yard the passel of us showed up at, the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were already there on a platter to be shared.

I imagine this new community of believers lived in much the same way. Roaming the neighborhood from door to door, coffee, pie, a helping of grace in hand. A few doors down, I can smell soup on the stove and bread in the oven. Followed by more sharing of the word, and the Eucharist. Holy Communion.

Whether your offering was big or small, or non-existent, you were welcomed. Welcomed in with open arms.

With generous hearts, wallets were opened, possessions sold, a community collection, if you will, was there to provide for whomever had need. It was not done to belittle or shame, but rather with all kinds of humility. Their Christian faith was a day to day reality. Not a once a week performance to check off your list.

They met daily. They cared daily. They won souls daily. Searched the Scriptures daily. Daily living in and among community. Oh what a beautiful thing.

T. S. Elliot said this: “There is no life not in community. And no community not lived in the praise of God.”

When we come together unified as followers of Christ and Jesus is the common denominator~

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  51hxszll50l-_sx331_bo1204203200_I love this book, the concept, the stories, and the cover. The fact that I was invited to be tucked among the pages is an honor. You can order your copy here . Or here. All proceeds for this book will be divided equally between two ministries in South Africa: The Vine School in Cape Town, and The Ten Dollar Tribe“If you only have one hour in the day to write, don’t spend it frustrated. Spend it writing.” ~@lisajobaker, #FMFbook Gifts of Grace   Gifts of Grace

 

Gifts of Grace