Growing up in the 1980’s, a staple programme for us as a family on television was Bullseye, a TV game show based around darts and general knowledge. Its mascot was ‘Bully’, a large, brown bull in a red and white stripy shirt with blue trousers and it was hosted by the comedian Jim Bowen, supported by darts commentating legend, Tony Green.
One of the sections of the show was throwing darts at a board to select categories, one of which was spelling. The contestant was then given a word to spell. If Jim Bowen said, ‘Let’s check it with Bully’, Bully would walk along the bottom of the TV screen flicking through a dictionary and the end result you already knew – the contestant had spelt the word correctly.
We were easy pleased, TV wise, in the 80’s!
Spelling is an important core of knowledge and something we begin to learn from our earliest days growing up, even before we go to school. We have it easy now though with predictive text and spell checkers on word processing software which can do the hard work for us, though we still need to be careful!
I am going to suggest something which may seem to fly in the face of my train of thought so far. When considering community, it really should be spelt T-I-M-E.
When the Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Church in Rome, He said this: ‘Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honouring each other’ (Rom 12:10, NLT).
What is interesting is when we delve into the Greek in which the letter would have originally been written, the word used for honour in this statement is the Greek word ‘time’ (pronounced tee-may).
So often when we think about honouring others, we first of all think about not talking about them behind their back, gossiping, backbiting or spreading malicious rumours about them. We think about not losing our temper or arguing with people.
But, in the Church, that should be a given.
Sadly sometimes, it’s not the case and the end result of such poor behaviour is division and strife.
What I feel Paul is really getting at is the value and worth we place on people, as this is the root meaning of the Greek word ‘time’.
And that is really and truly measured through how much of our physical day to day time we actually give them.
Time is the only thing which we have less of as we go through life and that we are unable to get more of, no matter how wealthy we may be.
People talk about spending time with their kids or quality family time because they know that there is a value to this which cannot be calculated in terms of money. It is priceless!
So should our attitude be to one another as a community of believers that makes up the Church.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not necessarily about organising more meetings or events or activities for people to go to.
What I am talking about is people choosing to walk through life with one another, willingly choosing to spend time with each other rather than be the equivalent of spiritual ships in the night by only choosing to be in the same room for an hour and a half on Sundays.
It means choosing to think of others and not just of your own circumstances. It means choosing to share your life with people and vice versa.
And this means celebrating the good times and the successes together as well as showing love, care, and support to one another as people walk through difficult circumstances and experience pain, suffering or loss.
It means learning to be real about things as well as being honest and open. It means learning to cut one another some slack by understanding that, as believers, we are all on a common journey of faith and that life sometimes throws us curveballs which we have to deal with and we can and sometimes do make mistakes.
In practice, what community looks like might be as simple at the outset as taking the time to send a message, make a call or write a card. It will undoubtedly involve striking up a conversation, perhaps going for a coffee, lunch or having dinner. It might mean paying a visit to a hospital bedside or home.
It’s not just the job of the minister, pastor or leader for it’s something all of us need to choose to do.
Nor does it mean you have to be everyone’s best friend forever, for that would be difficult in reality but we can choose to be companions on our common journey.
He was frequently surrounded by thousands of people but He chose to spend more of His time with a close community of twelve and even out of this was closer with three.
I know life is busy, but life is enriched through sharing it with other people. And, what is more, we will find ourselves changed as well as others through the shared experience.
And, for the better.
So, take some time today out of your busy schedule for others.
For fullness of life comes through engaging with one another in community and the time that you invest in doing so will never go to waste.