Three weeks ago my family and I moved 200 miles to Birmingham from Cornwall. It felt like all we are, who we are, what defines us, had been packed into boxes and been loaded onto a van. Some was going with us, other stuff was going to family members to store for us. Things felt broken, separated and uncertain.
The next day me, my parents, brother and father in law arrived at The Queens Foundation, our new home for the next 2 years while I undertake 2 years of formation (the buzz word for training for and exploration of God’s calling on me to be a minister n the Methodist church). We unloaded the van, everything we’ve brought going up 28 steps and into what became a sea of boxes and furniture in a small 2 bedroom flat, which for a moment appeared was never going to fit in. I had a day to get things sorted before Louise and the girls arrived, so I set to work making sense of the space, trying to work out how to fit everything in and have space to move!
Three weeks on and things are largely where we are happy with them. Our stuff was somewhat organised and settled…but what about us? We had a new community to explore and discover, places we needed to find (like petrol stations, corner shop, DIY store, supermarket, doctors surgery…the list goes on). We had moved into a new community that we would be living with, eating with, worshipping with, working with and studying with, how would be get on, would they be friendly? Our lives out of the comfort we previously know, and thrust into something we didn’t know and didn’t exactly choose ourselves. It felt like the furniture did when we arrived. Out of place, not making sense or feeling ‘settled’.
Since moving we have received nothing but love, grace and friendship from everyone. From Bob, a fellow student who helped unload the van, his wife who furnished us with ice creams, staff, students and tutors who’ve answered countless questions and queries with huge patience, families on site who have been supporting each other, getting together and making new friends. The love, the grace, the friendship, the community has always been visible and tangibly present.
Louise and I were taking last night and realised that now, only 3 weeks after we’ve moved, Queens feels like home. The top image is the view from our lounge, slightly different to the St Austell bay we’d been used to! While St Austell still has a dear place in our hearts but we have peace in knowing we are where God has lead us to be, and where God is going to do great things in the next two years, in our new home & community. 2 years may only feel like a passing moment in years to come, but for now, I believe it is a time for us all to learn what being community truly is. Sharing together in all we are, as we journey together on the adventure God has for us.
44 All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
Acts 2: 44-47
As I reflect and write I’m reminded of the above verses. On campus we all have so much in common, which we can share and build on, while we come from so many different places which we can also share and learn from. There is a sharing of time, company, meals, worship and friendship. There is support and love day by day.
My experience so far has made me wonder how much God, (Father, Son and Spirit in community with each other), are revealed to us when and as we live in community with each other, in love and grace (Which I’ll be exploring further as part of the interpretation of the Doctrine of the Trinity called ‘Social Trinitarianism’ – see, I’ve already been doing a little bit of learning!).
Generosity, hospitality, community, worship, joy – all words that have been used so much during my induction week, and words that have spoken so much to me. God has challenged me to learn to live by them in the community in which I already feel so at home, and to contribute to a community in which I have already felt so loved and so held in the loving arms of God. It feels like a family, and a family which is about to go on a long and exciting (yet sometimes tough and challenging) journey together.
Where is your community? What can you contribute? Where do you practice generosity, hospitality, community? What more do you have to learn? Who are you journeying with?