Most days, you could draw a circle around our family that isn’t very big. Set the pointed end of your compass at our church and draw north, you’d encompass the girls’ school. Keep traveling around to the south and you’d catch our house. You could complete the circle without ever crossing a street. Our commute was never terrible, but for years we’ve been living with one foot in the town where we lived and the other in the town where our church family (and our friends!) lived. What I longed for most was overlap: the kind of casual interactions that happen at school, at the grocery store, at the library when you live near your friends. Our lives have recently been enriched by the ability to drop in or stop by, to ask for and receive neighborly help, to invite and be invited at a moment’s notice. The boundary between our home life and our church life has always been pretty thin but now it is virtually non-existent. Paul and I even performed a feat of relay parenting on a Sunday morning when our kids were sick: I went over for the first part of the service to sing on the worship team and Paul met me in the parking lot on his way over to preach while I headed back home to sit with our couch-bound kids. This is the life we want: small, local, present, available.
Our kids are thriving in their new neighborhood. We spent the summer spinning around our new cul-de-sac with neighbor kids. Claire (almost 10) and Rachel (7) walk to school through our backyard each morning. Both girls still love drawing and crafts of all kinds and both are learning piano. Claire has a thriving social life as usual, while Rachel has found the one good friend she desires. Luke (almost 5) loves getting to ride the bus to 4K each afternoon. He’s become very responsible, voluntarily making his own bed and setting the breakfast table almost every morning. He reminds ME about events on the calendar. Caleb (3) loves books and puppies and making people laugh.
I still stay home with the boys but I work a few hours each week at Harbor Athletic Club. The boys come with me to work in the child care area and the whole family enjoys our membership. Gateway Community Church celebrated its 25 year anniversary this summer; Paul has been the pastor for ⅓ of that time! It’s hard to imagine him doing anything else: he preaches with great care and makes it an ongoing priority to visit and care for the members of our church. The boys and I love that he stops in frequently throughout the day and the girls love that we get to see him even if he has an evening meeting.
As we begin to celebrate Christmas, I am reminded how I used to question why Jesus came to such an isolated place in a time without mass communication. If God really wanted to impress us with his arrival on Earth, surely he could have waited until it could be broadcast everywhere at once? It occurs to me now that God displayed incredible patience in sending Jesus at a time when he could only be in one place at one time, where the revelation of the nearness of God moved from one person to the next. The good news was going to go out at a human scale, not amplified by technology. It began with shepherds who went to see the mysterious baby in the manger then went into town, excited about what they had seen and heard. The news spread like gossip, I assume, and people heard but waited. They waited 30 years for Jesus to begin his real ministry. It took time and patience. Some believed; some held out for the next sign, the next parable. The message from God began as something small, local, present, available and that same message is still going forth this Christmas. Shocking as it may sound, God sent his Son to earth.
May you be blessed by this good news this Christmas season!