Last week I got to live out a lifelong dream and go to a home game for the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park (affectionately referred to as “The Stick”). While I was there I of course got to experience the game itself and all that comes with it. Ultimately I got to experience the agony of defeat…but that is another story! One thing I did experience was something a bit unexpected considering I was surrounded by strangers…community!
If you read my previous post you can see that I’ve been searching for community in a home church since we moved to Alaska 3 years ago. It has been an elusive feeling in the pews, and suddenly here I was in a stadium filled with THOUSANDS of people I did not know and there it was smack in my face…community!
People who were sitting around us were ticket season holders who go to the games all the time. The older couple sitting in front of us had the routine down pat, binoculars and all. The gentleman of that couple has been going to games since the very early days of the Niners back in the late 40′s and early 50′s. There weren’t a lot of opportunities to celebrate during the game (we lost 10-9) but I still got to observe relative strangers talking to one another, high-fiving each other (even hugging) and participating in traditions in unison with excitement and emotion. That older couple often turned around to talk to us and make comments and so did the people sitting behind us. I did the same right back to them. None of us knew each other…but we all had a common love (the Niners) and a common goal (to win) and that seemed to make us feel like we were friends who could openly discuss what we were witnessing. It was FUN! My husband always teases me because when I talk about the Niners I always say “we”. Well, the “we” wasn’t just on the field, I was sitting amongst them….in community.
As we drove back to my aunt and uncles house that night I reflected on what I had experienced and I became perplexed. How was it so easy to find community there, but so difficult to find it in church or anywhere else for that matter. I mean let’s get real. How often do we sit on an airplane TOUCHING the person next to us, but never speak a word to them? How often do you go to church and sit in a pew next to someone you don’t know and only say hello when the pastor up front directs you to say hello and shake hands. Don’t we have a common love (God) and common goal (growth, knowledge and community) at church? We do! Yet so many of us walk in and walk out allowing ourselves to be completely alone…allowing OTHERS to be completely alone.
It seems like at church we should be turning around after and communing to those around us. Shaking hands. Talking about the sermon. Getting to know each other.
I’m a newbie these days, but for YEARS I was a core member of a church, and I have to say I pretty much sucked at going out of my way to meet someone new and make someone feel at home. So, I won’t belabor the point anymore because I think you probably get it. It’s a challenge. A challenge to myself to open myself up to the community around me everyday in every situation. A challenge to you to do the same as well. Because you just never know where you will find it, and we all know where we SHOULD be finding it!