By Sarah Anderson
I will never forget the “God Moment” that taught me about the beauty of a Christian community. It was a moment of true community, true love, true sharing. I was 15 years old, ending my first experience on a mission trip, and it was our last supper together as a group. All week we had worked, sweated, shed some tears, shed some blood, and worked to accomplish something bigger than ourselves. We were in Waukesha, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee working on a Habitat for Humanity house for a family of six: mom, dad, three sons and a daughter. We were building their home. Through 90+ degree heat, humidity, and bugs, we kept working: decking floors, raising walls, making windows and doors. It was a week of memories, and after it all, we had just one meal left together.
It is an understatement to say we had gotten to know each other that week. We had done everything together: sharing all our meals, our bedrooms, our bathrooms, the showers, the work site, and all of our free time. We were not just a community; we were an improvised family. And now, all that we had created as a group was coming to a conclusion. It was a time to celebrate with a meal out. We were at a restaurant, in a room to ourselves. Throughout the meal, we shared stories and laughter, food and friendship. We were raucous, but we were among the noise and din of a busy restaurant on a Friday night; no different from the rest, other than being a large group with the room upstairs reserved. We were apart from the crowd, enjoying some of the last times that the group would be a unique entity.
Dinner drew to a close, and our pastor stood up. As is tradition at the end of the week, it was time for communion, in honor of the (real) last supper. He had obtained bread and wine from the wait staff, and as he held them up to bless them, he painted the picture of our situation. We were in an upper room, as the first last supper had been. It was a time of celebration, a successful trip and the end of the work week for us, where it had been Passover for them. This was our last meal as a group, as it was the disciples last time all together. The timing was at the end of an accomplishment, and although it was an ending, it was also a beginning. The unplanned coincidence lent a beauty to the situation.
We had become a close-knit community by striving for something greater than ourselves, hoping to do something that would help the world around us. In a week, we had learned to love one another like the family of God, seeing the foibles and errors alongside the abilities and gifts. We were part of our group…and that being together was a gift from God. Taking a moment to recognize and appreciate that gift of community, of God’s love among us was a transformative moment in my life.