by Emily Allen Nilsen
Re-blogged from: May We Suggest
Growing up in the United States, my earliest encounter with another culture was the common rite of passage – the sleepover. Staying the night at the home of a friend opened my eyes to a whole new world. The meals and table etiquette were different. Bedtime routines were nothing like mine. Even the contents of a home provide a glimpse into the priorities of the occupants. These early intercultural experiences caused me to think about the world and the people in it a little differently.
Cultural differences exist all around us in our communities, friends, families, and occupations. One particular community you may hear about from time to time on our blog is our church, Community of Christ. This small community of peace makers have deeply impacted our lives for the better through the relationships we’ve built.
(A few quick disclaimers for any of our blog clientele: Andrew and I are not the proselytizing kind. If you are not religious, or spiritual, or whatever, we are not offended or concerned about saving your soul. We actively choose to engage in a community that values the worth of all persons, unity in diversity, and the blessings of community and we are followers of the principles that Jesus stands for. But that is our story. That is where we have found healing, hope, and connection. This space is not to convince you that church is the best way or the only way to find meaning in life. Quite the contrary, as our blog itself is suggesting that you find and create meaning wherever you are in life.)
Being a part of a church or not is another cultural aspect of our lives that helps make us who we are.
Culture and church are the focus of the post because of a wonderful opportunity Andrew and I had this past weekend thanks to our connections with Community of Christ. Our denomination has congregations all over the world, including our close international neighbor, Canada. Last weekend Andrew and I had the honor of being guest ministers at a retreat with the Meadowridge congregation in Pitt Meadows, B.C. It was also my first time to Canada, so I was excited to interact and experience a culture that is so similar, yet different from our own.
While we packed a lot of “Canadian” things into our short weekend – poutine, Tim Hortons, 5 pin bowling – observing the compassionate ethos of the congregation was our favorite cultural experience. The members of Meadowridge focused first and foremost on caring for each other. It’s one of those things that churches often talk about, that people often talk about, but rarely actually do. We want to be there for others, but when push comes to shove, we’re too busy, it’s out of the way, it inconveniences us to help out. This wasn’t the case at Meadowridge, though. Whenever a need arose in the life of a friend, the others were there. It didn’t matter how big or small the need was. From addictions to divorce, from children needing a home to broken and wounded hearts, needs were met and the details were figured out later. People were welcomed into the fold, comforted, taken care of.
We were brought up to be ministers to this small community, but, as often happens, we were the ones that left inspired by the opportunity to witness a true culture of caring in action.
May I take this lesson forward in my life as I encounter needs that seem too big. When we work together with the well-being of each other in our hearts, there’s no limit to what we can accomplish.