"and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near."
Hebrews 10: 24-2
We need to be angels for each other, to give each other strength,consolation. Because only when we fully realize that the cup of life is not only a cup of sorrow but also a cup of joy will we be able to drink it.”
This year, as we celebrate those we love, those at church, neighbors, children, husbands, let us look inside their hearts to see what is there and respond to them--even as Jesus saw the multitudes and had compassion on them, because He saw inside their hearts that they had no shepherd, sheep with no one to comfort, to guide, to guard.
Candles lit, tables decorated, chairs counted, all preparations made as women started parading through the door.
Amazement filled my mind and heart. Why do they come? Snowy roads, a cold night, leaving their homes. Always, I am surprised as each month precious ones pile through the doorway. Why do they take the time to come, to meet one more time?
As I look at my own heart needs, I see how many years I have felt that deep down, hunger, longing, emptiness from lack of community, wishing for friends who want to share life, for women--for someone who cares that I am alive and knows my struggles, my fears, my heart.
I am surrounded by people, crazy busy, rarely having a quiet, moment without the weight of life,
and yet, still so alone. But the places have now been filled by years of sweet, loyal, loving friends who have owned our friendship for years and years through it all. Such a gift.
Yesterday, I spent an hour on the phone with a cherished friend. A precious, faithful, loving heart--yet she so alone in carrying heavy burdens of life, that when an unsuspecting stranger asked her how she was, the tears began to flow--
just to have someone ask, to pretend to want to know. Well beloved by so many and yet,
No one knows, no one helps or reaches out to her.
I understand--how many people are in my life, how few souls have known the scope or depth of the my own soul battles--they are all busy and overwhelmed, too. And this leads me to want to see into the heart of others for what they bear, where they live.
We were made for friendship. Our hearts are prewired to be loved, to belong, to celebrate and share life together, in community--to bear each other's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.
And so where would the evil one attack?
He would separate us to be alone, vulnerable, weak as one by ourselves in the battle for souls, so that we cannot be strong, joining arm in arm, heart to heart.
He would isolate us in neighborhoods where we live alone, with no knowledge or shared life with those nearest to us in proximity. With values and faith and ideals, that separate us from the world, but impossible to uphold alone.
He would break the close bonds of fellowship that church was made to uphold, the body knit together, and let us go to large buildings filled with noises of music, people all around with nary an intimate friendship.
Loneliness, an epidemic. Here is the battleground.
That feeling in the dark of night that your life is invisible--Does anyone care? Does it matter that I keep dragging on day by day? Does anyone know the weariness of my soul? Do others swell with anger? Or wish for relief? Or feel a lack of worth? Or want to quit and don't even know what that means?
And so we gather, with food, drink, a little reprieve from real life, and touch someone else who shares our world. We gather to listen to His words--together. We gather to understand that our sacrifice is precious to the One who sacrificed all.
We gather to know we are not alone.
Our hearts are cherished and held by the one who counts our tears and sees our faith and knows our exhaustion.
We ponder Mary, alone on her journey through countries, through years of questions, through people seeking the life of her son,
but because of her heart, her boldness to believe, Mary, finding favor with God, being chosen by him to bring His life into her home, so that the son of God find comfort, beauty, love for the years he would live on earth.
Even as we provide life, beauty, comfort, love so our children will not feel alone.
A simple mother, whose heart gave all that He might have a safe haven to find rest for his baby soul.
And so, we meet to find strength, love, laughter, understanding and hope-the hope that keeps our feet on the path, our minds steadfast on our beliefs, our hearts willing to take another step of faith one more day, one more month, one more year, because once again, we know our life of giving and our love poured out is changing the world.
And so this is the message of Christmas--making time to love, giving time to talk, to share hearts to show compassion,
The gift of our time to listen and to share--it is what the baby did when he came for our sake and what we need and what will keep us worshipping a little longer.
and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
You are not invisible to Him, the one who came because He loved saw you and loved you.
Someone else in your life also needs to know this truth.
Today, invite a friend, call a loved one, take initiative to make room for encouragement so that your own soul needs will be met.
Buying one more thing will not satisfy. Investing love and heart time will restore, redeem, fill bring life and hope. Who needs you today? Who do you need to celebrate life with today?
Life happens when you open your door, invite and welcome, look into eyes and share life--Wherever two or three are gathered, there I am in their midst.......
May God bless you with a new friend this season of celebrating the one who himself took initiative in our lives, so that we would not be alone.