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Youth Column: Building Community

Youth Column: Building Community

Monday October 10 2022

Thomas Govaers highlights the importance of connection

A few years ago, I had an epiphany.

I was invited to a massive feast. A thousand people were attending from all walks of life (this was just before the pandemic). The people that were invited, were of two groups. It was all the people in the town that did voluntary work and all the vulnerable people.

I was slightly late when I entered the big hall filled with long tables of chatting people. It was rather intimidating, as I didn’t see anyone I knew in this mass of people. Gathering all my courage I sat myself down at an empty space at a full table. Introducing myself, I found out that no one at my table knew each other beforehand. That relaxed me a bit.

There was something in the air that night. There was no judgement at all. Every person could express themselves as they wanted to. Refugees from all over the world had formed a band together, combining their traditional instruments to play melodies from all over the world. And people danced together, expressing their joy to this musical manifestation.

It felt as though God was speaking to me at that moment: this is what God’s kingdom looks like. This is doing His will on earth as it is in heaven. As I’m typing this out, it starts to sound like a parable, but this is how I remember it. I do understand that not every day will be a feast with a thousand people attending. Still, the idea is the same, we can take the principles of this feast and use them in our daily life, creating nurturing communities wherever we go. We can treat each other as made in the image of God, we don’t have to judge anyone, and we can accept each other even though we might have different views about life.

In 2020 I came to Scotland to look after a community of people who struggle with homelessness. Doing this work reinforced what I had learned before: community is necessary, not only for the sake of our happiness, but for the sake of survival. God has made us to be in community with each other, otherwise we stop existing!

There’s only one problem. We are completely incapable of creating communities by ourselves. But that is pretty much the point. We need each other to pursue community, we need each other to accept, or better yet, celebrate our differences. If we do this for others, others might just do this for us.

Are these just the ramblings of a madman? Or do you see some sparks of this ideal world I’m longing for shine through? How will you build community this week? It could be as simple as inviting someone for dinner, making music with a friend or chatting with a stranger. It might not be perfect yet, but maybe we get to taste a wee bit of heaven.

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