How community is forged from imperfect people
Back in the days when televisions fit into cabinets, this primitive hutch housed a TV. It once served as extra storage for kitchen items, and it once set outdoors for a spell, housing vegetable seeds and flowerpots and garden tools.
Its next life will be a dining room hutch. But first, some repair work was needed.
In the course of stabilizing the hutch, my husband Dan pointed out how many mismatched scraps of wood had been used. And how haphazardly it had been built. And how crooked the shelves were.
We wondered about its back story. Someone went to a lot of trouble to build an uneven cabinet with funky curved doors and fingerhole openings.
Someone had to gather all the irregular pieces of wood and fit them together.
My husband commented, “Alone, the pieces aren’t nearly as functional or constructive as the whole.”
Isn’t that what God does with us? He takes broken and hurt and discarded people with our strong opinions—some louder than others—and fits us together into something purposeful, fits us into a unit that collectively reaches out to do good within and outside the group.
It’s call community.
And it embraces irregular, difficult, flawed people who don’t always try to understand each other, people who aren’t nearly as functional or constructive on their own.
I once found myself smack dab in the middle of a beautiful community-in-action story when my daughter Summer and SIL Josh traveled to Uganda to fetch three young brothers home to America.
Josh & Summer’s church, led by a tireless couple, Steve and Debbie, staged a house and yard crash in preparation for welcoming three young Ugandan brothers into their New Jersey village.
Steve a cancer researcher, and Debbie, a school nurse, stopped by the house nearly every evening after work. They helped refurbish a non-functioning upstairs bathroom. They designed an 8-foot pantry with floor to ceiling shelves and helped me construct a tabletop out of planks to seat eight—the number in my daughter and SIL’s new family.
They recruited weekend teams to tear up a deck, flip the wood, and build a triple-level tree house.
Everything was completed in the six weeks Josh and Summer were in Uganda. As an ambitious surprise. As part of the love story of welcoming three brothers into their community.
The Apostle Paul wrote two thoughts in two different letters about community and belonging and purpose:
So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. – Romans 12:5
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2
We belong to each other and we’re called to help carry each other’s loads—as demonstrated so well by Steve and Debbie and the church in New Jersey.
This farm hutch. Uneven, irregular, flawed pieces of wood. Shaped into a whole unit. With purpose and function. And a certain farm-ish character to warm our dining room.
“Guaranteed there’s not another one like it,” said Dan as he was nailing down the finishing touches.
And now it will stand as a reminder of the importance and usefulness and beauty of community—made up of flawed, irregular, complicated people.
This thought by an author unknown: “At the end of the day, our purpose in community is to receive the grace of God.”
It seems there is something missing. Perhaps it should read like this:
At the end of the day, our purpose in community is to give and receive the grace of God.