This blog is dedicated to The Tribe and our “extended family”
“For wherever two or three are assembled in my name, I am there with them” Matthew 18:20 (The Complete Jewish Bible)
We belong to a group of friends that ride motorcycles together. The women of the group have a “Friendships of Women” study group. We try to meet weekly. We laugh, we cry, we get into deep spiritual discussions, help others in the group with issues going on in their lives, we sometimes pray together and sometimes we pray for each other during our daily lives. We support one another, uphold one another, advise one another, love one another. We snack during our time together and – hold onto your hats – we share a bottle of wine together. Remember: Judge not, lest you be judged! No one gets drunk….not even tipsy. (For all of the “tsk, tsk”ers out there let us remember Yeshua (Jesus) was accused of being a drunkard because He drank wine. I’m pretty sure I feel like I need to “explain” and defend our group because of residual judgment from years in the church!)
Back to the story: One day a member of our group had a head on collision on the way to work in the morning. The message went out on Facebook (what WOULD we do without Facebook!!) and we rallied. Biggest need for the time being was prayer. My husband and I went to the hospital to be with his wife, others showed up throughout the day and we kept everyone informed as we had information. His injuries were extensive and the road to recovery would be lengthy at best, but he was alive. We organized meals to be brought to the hospital and whoever was there would eat with the family. Most nights there were 10 or more. We coordinated times to sit with our friend so that his wife could go home and shower, do a couple of loads of laundry, finish her Christmas shopping. Yea, it happened the week before Christmas.
Their plumbing decided to act up and so an acquaintance who knew somebody who knew somebody kind of thing got a plumbing company to donate their services and the plumbing issue was resolved.
For this family in crisis we found out that their Christmas Eve tradition was to go to a local Chinese restaurant and have dinner with family. The idea our group came up with was to pitch in and get the meal to bring up for the family on Christmas Eve. Someone who knew someone again went one step further and got the restaurant to donate the meal. Cool.
A couple of us in the medical field by profession took care of issues that arose in the hospital. The men of the group have gotten together to plan how the house would be revised, if need be, so that it would accommodate someone who would be handicapped, at least for a period of time. A member of our group had a birthday so we all celebrated at the hospital. Normally we would have all gathered in a restaurant or in someone’s home, but this year the celebration would be in the hospital. A Christmas tree was set up, stockings were hung on the hospital door frame with care, in hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there….ok that’s corny, but you get the idea!
This family is not a poor family, nor are they wealthy. We are all average middle class working people. But the point is we came together and took care of the needs as they arose. Each of our members have gifts and talents that could be used to better the situation, address problems, offer prayer, support, and words of comfort. And the group got larger as others found out….acquaintances who have now become friends.
A snapshot of our group may frighten some – many have several tattoos, wear clothing with skulls, lots of leather, or have long hair. Seeing them on a street corner you may choose to walk the other way, avoid eye contact, or clutch your handbag a little closer! Sure there are groups of bikers out there who more than embody the stereotype most have of bikers, but there are more who do not. Those I know, or have had the pleasure of meeting over the years, have been solid salt- of-the-earth, family oriented, flag waving, military and veteran supporting, (and many are former military) hard working people. When there is a need, whether those in need are friends or not, we come together to organize fund raisers or do whatever is needed. Most are animal lovers and advocate for the abused; both the human kind and the furry kind.
You see, this is a “church”. No, we do not gather in a building, shake hands with every newcomer who walks thru the door, pass the plate, or listen to sermons. We do gather together, welcome and hug newcomers and friends in greeting, rally our resources to support others and live the words of Yeshua to love one another. Are there disagreements? Misunderstandings? Arguments? Yup. But to the best of our ability, and in the fallibility of our humanness, we try to bring peace.
Walls are not required for a “church” to exist. People who come together to love others and meet needs is required. When Yeshua walked the earth He spent His time among the people, not in a pulpit. He healed, taught, forgave, and met the needs of those who came to Him. He denied no one. And when He was about to leave the earth He established His “church” with one of His followers: Peter. Peter was a fisherman by trade, uneducated, and rough around the edges; not a living saint with a halo!
Yeshua’s followers, those who understood His simple message of love, mercy, and generosity, were themselves simple, everyday people; not the pious, and certainly by no means perfect. A “church” of sorts existed in Yeshua’s day. It was called the synagogue and it was largely controlled by the Pharisees and religious leaders of the day. Their “rules” reigned supreme and had little to do with God. Yeshua was at odds with them and it ultimately resulted in His death.
It’s time we broaden our definition of “church” to mean living the intent of Yeshua’s words instead of a building with 4 walls where people argue the color of the carpeting for the sanctuary, teach exclusion of those who are outside the “ideal” of what a “Christian” should look like, and set themselves above others. “Church” was meant to be a living entity comprised of people who love, not with words, but with action. Those who gather in His name………