I have been reflecting upon the past year in light of the devotion I wrote about learning that what we have to offer can be enough when we share with others. Perhaps what I most want to emphasize here is the importance of being willing to come together with others, whether in person or electronically. If we don’t meet others, we don’t see the ways things we consider of no value may be just what someone needs. Community also creates opportunities for people to notice one another’s talents. And having someone else notice a talent of ours is often what opens our eyes to it.
Sometimes I visit patients in the hospital, and they ask me to sing a hymn that I have not thought of in many years and that I only know in part. I will start to sing, and when I get to a part I don’t remember, the person who requested the hymn will often supply the words. We end up singing a duet, each supplying a bit of the song, each adding our voice to a hymn that would not have been sung if we had not been willing to risk the journey. When this happens, the songs seem more joyful because they required both of us to contribute. Our duet may not sound the best, but we experience communion. And through the experience of creating something together, we rejoice.
I teach a bit about pastoral care skills like how to be a good listener, assessing spiritual issues, and being present when it is difficult. It is hard for me not to think that if only I knew more, I would be a much better teacher. This sense of inadequacy sometimes tempts me not to offer what little I do know. Yet I don’t have to teach the course alone—each participant in the class has something to offer. And when we share the incomplete pieces that we have to offer, we find that we develop our own understanding and skills in ways we had not anticipated. We often find that another person’s insight is just what we need to get a clearer picture of what is going on. Then we can thank God for the way the Spirit has brought us together to grow our souls.
Perhaps community is always formed in this willingness to be vulnerable with one another and to seek out the gifts in others which might not have been recognized before. By not only offering what we have, but also seeing and naming what others have to offer, we can draw out the best in each of us. In joining our gifts together we create something new, whether that be a fixed wheelbarrow or a healed community.
The worship, preaching, and teaching for The Upper Room’s RESILIENCE conference was among the best I have ever experienced. The event was extremely well organized and went so smoothly. The Upper Room continues to make so much impact on people around the world.”