THE JOY OF COM­MU­NITY

Activated - - NEWS - By Marie Alvero MARIE ALVERO IS A FOR­MER MIS­SION­ARY TO AFRICA AND MEX­ICO. SHE CUR­RENTLY LIVES A HAPPY, BUSY LIFE WITH HER HUS­BAND AND CHIL­DREN IN CEN­TRAL TEXAS, USA. ■

TO­DAY I GET THE PRIV­I­LEGE OF HOST­ING FIVE FAM­I­LIES FOR DIN­NER.

We've known each other for the bet­ter part of our lives, and tonight we'll all come to­gether in joy­ful com­mu­nity. I look for­ward to th­ese kinds of evenings re­lax­ing with friends and fam­ily. This is where my true wealth lies!

We are com­ing to­gether in cel­e­bra­tion, but none of us are free from strug­gles and sor­rows. My old­est friend in the room just lost her niece to cys­tic fi­bro­sis. We miss our el­dest son, who re­cently joined the mil­i­tary. An­other friend strug­gles with a re­cent di­ag­no­sis. We all have kid prob­lems, job prob­lems, money prob­lems, mar­riage prob­lems, health prob­lems. I know we're all kinda stressed, be­cause life is busy and throws stuff at us ev­ery day. Some of us have good news, and some of us have sad news.

Ro­mans 12:15 says “Re­joice with those who re­joice, and weep with those who weep.” I can't think of a bet­ter way to do com­mu­nity than that. There will never be a time when both happy and dif­fi­cult things aren't hap­pen­ing in our lives.

I want to hear your good news, even if jux­ta­posed against my hard news. I will be happy with you and for you! I don't want you to down­play your joy, just be­cause, at that ex­act mo­ment, my news is dif­fer­ent. We will re­joice to­gether!

If you have hard news, I will cry with you and come along­side you in your sor­row, and to­gether we will re­mem­ber that joy will re­turn.

There is rich­ness in shar­ing each other's highs and lows. It adds depth to our hap­pi­ness, not un­like the way that resid­ual in­come adds to our wealth. It is an ad­di­tional rev­enue of highs and lows, ex­pand­ing our lives be­yond the bound­aries of our per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences.

I'm about to go into the kitchen to get my pasta sauce started, be­fore leav­ing it to sim­mer for the next sev­eral hours. I will fuss a minute over my home be­ing wel­com­ing and tidy, but just for a minute. No one is com­ing here to see my home. I will spend a minute in the mir­ror, but just enough to look re­freshed. No one is drawn here by my beauty.

What draws us to­gether is the friend­ship. The his­tory we have built, layer by layer, in shar­ing each other's joys and sor­rows. Th­ese are shoul­ders I have cried on, friends I have laughed with, and vice versa.

Com­mu­nity is a vi­tal in­gre­di­ent to a happy, ful­filled life. God didn't in­tend for us to do life alone. In com­mu­nity we com­pound our hap­pi­ness and share the bur­den of strug­gle.

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