What do you remember from the communities in which you grew up? I lived in rural, small town America, so most people knew each other. As teens, we gathered at the local food joint, “The Pizza Place,” chowing down on some pies and listening to music. And on the second weekend of July, the town celebrated its famous “Delta Chicken Festival” with a carnival, parade, and the barbequing of eight thousand halves of chicken. I’m sure you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that I once dressed up as a chicken and walked in the parade! All of these were significant memories of community. But there is one that lingers on and is still a part of the landscape in many towns today. And that is Friday Night Football.
As this column is published, both Culpeper County and Eastern View High School are beginning their football practices for the upcoming season. Friday Night football is a magnet for bringing people together from all walks of life to stadiums across the country. With the pageantry of the band and their half time shows, the excitement of the cheerleaders and the student pep section, the warriors of the gridiron defending the honor of towns, and the bleachers filled with hope filled admirers, this spectacle draws people together. This is community.
And we were made to be in community with one another. God just didn’t create man, but he also created woman to be in relationship. Jesus didn’t do ministry on his own, but he walked alongside twelve others and taught them. Even when the Apostle Paul embarked on his missionary journeys, he took others with him such as Barnabas, Silas and Timothy. We weren’t meant to live this life alone. But circumstances can lead us in other directions.
If we choose to live a selfish and self-centered existence, then it may be alone. If we choose to be mean, hateful and uncooperative, then it may be alone. If we lose a spouse or other loved ones, then it may be alone. If we move to another location, then it may be alone. If we choose to isolate ourselves from neighbors, then it may be alone. Yes, loss occurs. And it can cause loneliness. But is this condition chronic? Only if we allow it to be.
Culpeper is a wonderful, diverse community. So many things to do and be involved. A community consists of many working together for the common good. If you would like to be an active participant in town, consider the following. How about tutoring with school aged children? How about helping someone learn how to read? How about reaching out to the homeless? How about feeding the hungry? How about assisting the aging? How about reaching out to those going through opioid addiction or domestic abuse? How about helping to promote the downtown and county? How about running for public office? How about coaching a sports team or helping with the parks? How about having a cup of coffee with the folks who gather at the local diners? Are you sensing a theme here? Avail yourself to be part of the community, because that what God attends for his creation. And one of the most effective communities you can participate in is the church.
The church? “I’m not good enough.” “All they want is money” “Fake people go there.” “I’m too busy.” “I don’t know about this Jesus thing.” Maybe its foreign to you, but the church is one of the greatest communities on earth. In Hebrews 10:24-25 it is written, “And let us consider how to stir up one another in love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
The church is not perfect. Far from it. We’re all broken people in some degree or another. But where else can you find support, love, encouragement, purpose and grace? One of my church members who now lives in Florida came back to Virginia to spend the last few weeks with us. Why? Because she loves the church! Please consider attending one of the fine congregations in Culpeper.
Community is everything. God created us not to be alone, but to be in relationship with others. Please don’t relegate yourselves to loneliness and isolation. Make a conscience decision to become involved, making Culpeper an even better place than it already is.