Do you have the impression that years ago, when our parents were raising us or our grandparents were raising them, it was easier to build community? In my mind, there was more time for church dinners or school education nights when I was a child than there is today. It seems like there was more room in the weekly schedule to be together in community, whether it be school, church, or neighbourhood—sometimes in organized ways and sometimes for the pure joy of having time together. I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s the impression I have.
I often hear people lament that there isn’t enough time to be together, whether that be with family, friends, or the broader community. We know it’s important, we value it, and yet we cannot seem to clear the time for it in our busy schedules. We are around people and share in casual conversation with others as we are running from one activity to another, but we are not necessarily engaged in community-building. It is the challenge of modern times, but it is also a choice. We can choose to make each other a priority in our schedules.
In 1 Peter 4:8-14, we read about what life in community looks like:
"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."
This is a beautiful picture of what life together can be, but if you read it carefully, it also sounds like an awful lot of work! Maybe that’s why community-building is hard to make time for—it requires commitment, giving of ourselves and our gifts, and loving one another beyond the superficial. But if we do it, the wonderful result is something that brings glory to God, instead of being self-serving or us-glorifying. Its impact surpasses us!
In Christian schools, many bricks are laid each and every day to build our school communities. It's important to recognize that each small act of hospitality, service, and sharing of ourselves contributes greatly to the whole. Being active community-builders does not require us to go outside of ourselves—each of us should use whatever gift we have received to serve others. When we smile, complete a task without grumbling, take time to listen, surround those in need, or volunteer our time for special events, we become part of the structure that holds us all together. Making the most of our time together is key; it requires being present in each moment with hearts in tune to the Spirit.
Remember, God's grace comes in many forms—Are you a healer? A speaker? A comforter? A builder? Then do these things, in the strength God provides, so that in our schools God may be praised.
Ginette Mack is the Principal at Northumberland Christian School in Cobourg.