30 January 2012

Community as a place to help each other out

Last Easter, I was helping with the weekend duties when the person in charge of the huge Easter breakfast feast came down sick. Easter morning breakfast is one of the highlights of the weekend: the culinary culmination of the church services - a way of physically experiencing the joy that Christ is risen and let us celebrate! The person in charge is someone who plans and organises parties really well - and is super responsible - so imagine her disappointment when she couldn't fulfill her plans and couldn't even be there to help set up (at the crazy time of five in the morning) - despite the fact that she was so sick that there was no way she could have gotten more than a few feet out of her bed. I was one of those who stepped in and helped try to organise the breakfast so that it was still a feast, even if it wasn't exactly quite as planned. It was a bit overwhelming at times, but still really good. It felt good simply to be part of a community where it is not only possible to step in for each other - but where doing so feels so obvious. Community is, after all, a place where we are there to help each other out.

Despite it being obvious that we help each other out when needed, I wasn't expecting that I would be receiving the same sort of help quite so soon. The plans of Matthijs and I for the Christmas feast in the community were graciously taken over by others only a short way into the weekend. We led a chapel on the Friday night, made plans for shopping and Christmas dinner, including finding people to help with half the entrees. Then we left early to rest up before the excitement of the weekend. I called my Dad that night, heard the overwhelming news that Mom had been moved to intensive care, and went to bed hoping to find strength for not only the weekend activities but also with the worry over my family. Saturday morning early I woke up and glanced at my mobile phone - 10 messages from Canada on a phone that had been left on silent from my leaidng chapel the night before. My mom had passed away. And suddenly, I was the one needing to be helped out.

The news was shared and others stepped in with both cooking and organising. And Matthijs and I became caught up in mourning, letting others know, and making travel arrangements. On Christmas Day I sat on a plane, flying away from home and the Christmas feast that I'd expected to be in the middle of cooking and organising - flying to my other home to spend Christmas with family and eat a Christmas dinner that my sisters had cooked. I was going to help and encourage my family but also going to receive encouragement and support from them. And all the encouragement and help that I'd received before leaving Amsterdam, including the gracious help in taking over my responsibilities, were a constant reminder of all the support, help, love and prayers that I and my family would be receiving during this difficult time.

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