Guest Post by Anna Dominick
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
I’ve been reflecting recently on how Christian hospitality and community have impacted my life, especially in very difficult times. My dad has worked in some capacity within the United Methodist Church since I was 5, meaning I always had a community of people surrounding me and walking alongside me on my faith journey. When I was in 11th grade my mom became ill and has had significant health problems for the last 16 years. When my mom’s health problems started, the congregation at Roswell United Methodist Church stepped in providing meals, hospital visits, vacation homes, even remodeling our house. This isn’t to mention the countless prayers upon prayers upon prayers. They still pray for my mom even though my parents now live in an entirely different state.
In 2005, 6 years later, I moved to Lexington and did not know a single person in Kentucky. It was a very sobering realization—after always having a church to fall back on, I found myself having no community at all. I started visiting churches in Lexington and felt very alone. Sitting in a chair at a church service by myself watching everyone else talk and hug is one of the most isolating things I have ever experienced. I had very few friends and struck out attempting to break into a very tight-knit group at each church I visited. I stopped going to church because I had no one to go with. I felt totally alone. I have a lot of regrets from my first three years in Lexington and wonder all the time how my story would be different if I had simply found a church sooner.
Through a series of twists and turns, I ended up in Offerings in the Fall of 2007 for the first time. My first Sunday I went to lunch with a group of strangers. It was through meeting some of those strangers that I found myself welcomed into their community and now call many of them family. I began to be more involved in this church, joined their catechesis groups, and deepened my relationship with Christ.
I’d like to challenge you who are reading this. Can I encourage you to invest in the community you’re in? Can I encourage you to go to dinner with a group you don’t know well? Can I encourage you to invite others to your church community? Can I encourage you to talk to the person sitting in the chair alone on Sunday morning?
I can’t imagine where I’d be today if I hadn’t walked through those church doors in 2007. I believe God’s design for our contentment and joy is found in belonging to a community of believers–to spur one another on to love and good deeds. Simply having someone reach out to me on that first Sunday helped me to not feel so isolated and alone. God used this church to bring healing in a powerful way.