I have had a lot of occasion to think about community over the past couple of weeks. I grew up in West Deptford and have lived here for almost my entire life. When I was a kid, WD was the quintessential "small town". Our mail man used to deliver mail in his own car, the milkman left the milk on our front porch in an insulated grey box that I thought was there specifically to hold my collection of stones. My Uncle Bob and his long time friend and business partner Charlie Bowers, owned a small garage where they fixed cars. At 10:00am every weekday, that little garage would fill up with people from town for coffee. Guys who worked for the township, guys from the fire companies, police officers, farmers, delivery men, you name it, they were there; drinking coffee, talking, joking and having a good time.
Each December, everyone from the garage would head into the woods for a week of deer hunting and every summer they would fish together. They always looked out for each other and took care of each other. When my uncle got married, he and his wife bought land to build their house. The house was built by guys from town. Anyone who had time after work or on the weekend would show up and lend a hand, and that house is still standing today. Everybody pitched in to help each other no matter what the situation; physical, financial, emotional, there was always someone there to help. That is the West Deptford I know and will always remember.
When my eldest daughter was in eight grade she would tell me that a lot of kids in her grade did not like the town. If that's true, I can't help but think part of it may be that they have not experienced the "community" versus the town. When I was little, the neighbors around our house were all older couples with both the husband and wife retired. I used to spend hours with those old folks; in their homes, in their yards and on their front porches, talking with them. They shared stories, let me help them with projects and let me earn a little money cutting their grass. My one neighbor, Mrs. Leonard, gave me ten Indianhead pennies that I still have. I know most kids today will never have an opportunity to experience that kind of interaction. Not that I am anti-technology, but the childhood I got to have cannot be duplicated by a little glass box no matter how many "friends" or "likes" you have.
And that is what a church is as well, a community of followers of Jesus, who care for one another, are there for one another to help, encourage, lift up and bear one another along. Be bold and dare to be apart of the community.