For the first time since my wife and I married in 2008, we moved this spring, albeit just 12 blocks. A surprising thing about leaving our old place was how our friends felt attached to the place where we had lived for six years.
We realized that there are people who spent more time in that apartment than in any home in the city besides their own. Something like that couldn’t have happened without God’s gift of community and specifically as we’ve experienced it in Redeemer’s community groups.
The first time we thought we could stay at Redeemer, which once felt too big, was in a community group. While I was away in 2005-06, my then-girlfriend (now-wife) Theresa joined a Vision Group that merged into an established group in the West Village. I also joined upon my return, and this group was where the Sunday preaching was reinforced, teased out and applied and where we were first known, challenged, cared for and prayed for.
We’re called to community life that’s far thicker.
After we married, our group sent us out to start a group uptown, and we’ve seen dozens of faces come through our door to worship, pray, laugh and become knit together in the time since. Some have since moved to different parts of the city or left the city altogether, but we’re convinced that Redeemer’s footprint and some trace elements from our group have informed their impact on places as near as Flushing or as far as Nepal.
By hosting and leading our community group, we’ve grown in our hospitality (not to mention ensuring we clean at least one room of our apartment each week). Whether it’s weekly groups, holiday potlucks, baby and bridal showers, game watches and more, we’ve tried to make our home a place open to anyone willing to trek to West Harlem.
We New Yorkers need to have a strong community to feel grounded in the city, but for us to flourish, our community has to be more than a place where we merely have fun and make friends. We’re called to community life that’s far thicker. The Word encourages us to build up one another, admonish one another, serve one another, wash one another’s feet, bear one another’s burdens, and sharpen one another as iron sharpens iron.
Therefore, we pray for Redeemer and all of its micro-communities that the next 25 years will see the fulfillment of the “one-anothering” demanded by a gospel in which another gave up everything so that we would have the chance of fellowship with the original community – the Trinity.