community is heaven on earth at st johns Presbyterian churchYou may have heard about a young woman about to get married who said to her mother, “I can’t marry him, mother. He’s an atheist and he doesn’t believe there is a hell.”

Her mother responded, “That’s all right, dear, marry him and between the two of us, I am sure we can convince him.”

Hell is not just a place people go when they die, is it? No, we can experience hell here on earth – when we feel lonely, worried, heartbroken or stressed out.

On the other hand, I believe we experience a taste of heaven in community, around dinner tables or other places where we share deeply with others… with family, friends and even strangers. We all have an inner need to be heard and known and loved.

This is exactly why my 13-year-old daughter talks on the phone with her friends for hours. It is why when she hangs up, she begins to instant message them. It is why places like the coffee shop and corner bar are so popular. It is why we all need a friend. It is why we crave having someone to share our deepest joys and our most profound heartache. It is why when that is missing in our lives, we hurt even more.

Whenever people can come together and feel connected they begin to feel whole. Heaven in this sense is the antidote to hell.

My prayer for each of you today, is that you would cultivate healthy community in your own life. Make it a priority. Be willing to be vulnerable, challenged, loved, and known.

Let us pray: Loving God, we remember today that you created us for community. Give us the grace and courage we need to invest ourselves in the lives of others – for we remember that it is always in giving that we receive. Amen.

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