One of my readers told me this true story.
It was a Thursday like any other and the main characters in this tale, let’s call them John and Jane, were pottering about their home. The retired couple, although in their early 80s, are fit and healthy and relish staying active, so it was not unusual for them to be up at the break of day. It was unusual, however, when John came back from collecting the newspaper calling Jane’s name with a blood-soaked handkerchief held to his head.
“I’ve had a dreadful accident,” he said.
When John lost his footing, his cranium made contact with a terracotta pot, lacerating his temple artery and causing a jagged gash to his crown. The blood flow would not be stemmed, so their son rushed the couple to the hospital’s emergency section for some stitches and a check over (before proceeding to take photos on his iPhone and sending the grisly shots to his siblings, I might add!).
They were home by 10am and Jane picked up an Australia Post parcel from the doorstep as they walked inside.
Minutes later, the doorbell rang. Two uniformed policemen. Asking after Jane.
They explained how the postman had arrived to deliver Jane her parcel only to find a trail of blood (quite a lot of blood), a broken pot (weapon?), cars still in the driveway (suspicious…) and not a person to be seen (Foul play? Murder? Break-in gone wrong?).
A bemused Jane set the story straight, assuring the officers that her home was not a crime scene.
Later, the doorbell again. The postman. Asking after Jane.
This is the best part: standing on the Welcome mat was a postman whose job it is to deliver mail in a timely fashion. But this bloke was concerned about the welfare of his customers, and he didn’t only call the police that day. He returned later, knocked on the door and asked if everything was ok (he can deliver my mail any day!).
Postie declined a cuppa but through conversation discovered he had a whole lot in common with John and Jane and they said their goodbyes expectant that they would meet up again, maybe for a proper natter next time.
I just love hearing these kinds of yarns because this is how a community is supposed to operate. Each person looking out for the next. A “do to others as you would have them do to you” neighbourhood (Luke 6:31).
This is what my church community is like and I can’t tell you what a joy it is to be part of. A big group of imperfect people with complicated lives, looking out for one another, supporting, encouraging, building one another up, providing, comforting, sustaining, doing whatever it takes.
One family invites a single mum into their home after she loses everything in a fire. One couple gives up their time every week to run a date night for couples because they believe in the value of marriage. One woman prays persistently for the different needs of individuals. One man visits the sick and elderly. I could go on.
The Bible speaks of the Christian faith community as one body with many parts.
“…there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for one another. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:25-26)
We are inseparable. As a faith community, God joins us together towards one purpose.
It’s a brilliant blueprint for the broader community. No room for six-foot fences (metaphorically – because I believe it’s council regulation now!) and turning a blind eye. We each have a unique role to play in community and if we’re not each doing our bit, the body is sick or crippled or blind or mute.
Have you ever considered that you are integral to the body of your community?
(Special thanks to the postie for teaching us about being neighbourly!)
First published in The Examiner Newspaper for Keeping the Faith column on Monday December 30, 2013.