May 25, 2022

LifeDate Summer 2022

by Michelle Bauman, Director of Y4Life

It’s bright and sunny as I write this article; the spring rains have eased, and the warm winds whisper that summer is on its way.

I’m looking forward to summer. I always do. Long walks and late evenings, cookouts and campfires, lightning bugs and laughter are woven into most of my favorite memories. While the weather is certainly one commendable aspect of the season, I’m especially fond of summer for the community it brings. The spontaneous conversations with neighbors out mowing, the picnic lunches on the back patio, and the conversations around the firepit make summer my favorite time of year. It’s the togetherness I long for more than anything—the opportunity to relish in the gift of others.

It’s no secret that I’m an extrovert; longing to be with others comes naturally for me. But we don’t have to be extroverts to recognize that people are meant to be blessings in our lives. Whether we prefer to spend time with lots of those blessings or a select few, it doesn’t change the fact that community is a gift, and because it was a gift given pre-fall, we can be certain it’s a good one.

Genesis 2:18 reminds us that we were made for community. After God makes Adam and places him in the garden, He declares, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” And then God does; He creates Eve. Together Adam and Eve make community possible. In fact, one of God’s first commands is to make community: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth,” God says (Genesis 1:28). Today we call this gift, this first community, family.

But the gift doesn’t end with our nearest relatives. Through Christ, our family expands exponentially to include our brothers and sisters at church, locally and throughout the world. Ephesians 2:19 reminds us, “You are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God …”. The community God provides is a good gift for His people. Even more, it’s a necessary one. We need each other for life.

God’s gift of Christian fellowship is a blessing meant to affirm and uphold life. Philippians reminds us of this. Paul begins his letter by thanking God for the faithful in Philippi, those partners in the Gospel who have been upholding his life in prison by praying and caring for him from afar. They have also been carrying on the work of the Gospel in his absence. They’ve been fulfilling their vocations, confessing Christ in name and through the fruits of service they’ve provided to those God has placed in their lives. Though Paul can’t be with them, he is uplifted by them. Their partnership, even from afar, brings him great joy.

God’s mighty work in Paul’s life has provided a confession for Christ that has spanned countless generations. Yet, Paul was still human. He needed to be supported by others. He needed the gift of Christian fellowship.

The same is true of each of us; we too need to be supported in body and soul. We need campfires and cookouts and picnic lunches filled with laughter. Yet, as members of the household of God, we also need conversation and consolation and prayer. We need to gather, in person, at the Communion rail. Surrounded by our eternal family, we need to hear God’s promises and rejoice in His forgiveness.

Whether you know it or not, you are manifestations of the blessing of community in my life. Your prayers and notes of encouragement from afar remind me that I am not alone. Your enthusiasm and interaction with Y4Life on social media platforms proclaim your support of our Y4Life initiatives. And your financial donations inspire and enable me to reach more schools and churches with the message of LIFE.  It is good to be a partner in the Gospel with you. Good because God has made us for each other.

May your summer be filled with time for family and friends, time to catch up, and time to simply be together. May you rejoice in God’s good gift of community now and always!