Shalom, Shalom: A Look At My Community
That’s that name of our Bible study. We meet every Wednesday night. I always come late from work, and the girls have already gathered around the living room with plates of various goodies and a cup of Arnold Palmer. In spite of the fact that we take turns bringing snacks, everyone seems to show up with the half lemonade half tea mix. It’s our thing.
There are about twelve of us. We’re all women, but that’s where a lot of similarities stop. We do not go to the same church. We are heads of high school history departments, nurses, speech therapists, full time college students, and so on and so forth. Some of us are in our 20s and some of us are about to cross into that 4th decade of life. There are moms with children, single ladies, and dating or engaged women. Some of us were taught at an early age to study the Words of God and some of us are just beginning to learn.
It doesn't matter our differences; we are all part of Shalom Shalom. And that fact has made an impact on each of our lives with a rippling effect into our communities and the world.
That impact of Shalom Shalom in my life has been even bigger then I would have thought. I have found fellowship, service, support, accountability, laughter, steadiness, encouragement, and so much more.
I have come to realize that all of these blessings are fruit from gathering in a community the way God made us to and asks us to.
God blesses community. He loves unity among His children. This is why Shalom Shalom has power because it is believers coming together in the name of the LORD. Let’s take a look at scripture and see where God talks about this.
In the beginning of man’s story, God made humans to live in a community. He made Adam and said:
“It is not good for a man to be alone. Genesis 2:8.”
So God made Eve to be Adam’s helpmate. From this flowed the family unit. Not long after the first family started though, sin entered the world. Sin made a mess of a lot of thing and the breakdown of the family is one of it’s greatest casualties.
We don’t all get perfect families. In fact, most of us can look at our lives and find that each of our families has it’s own problems. God knows that when our families’ break down it hurts us, so in His infinite wisdom, He becomes our Heavenly father and gives us another family.
He gives us a place to bind up the wounds that sin created, to give us a place to forgive, to learn, to grow, to thrive, and to live.
This family is call the Church. Not a building or organization, but a family of brothers and sisters that are living life with our Father, God.
For us to be able to tap into this family, God gives us these instructions in Hebrews 10:24-25:
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,
not giving up meeting together,
as some are in the habit of doing,
but encouraging one another—
and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
God knows that we need things, and He created us to be able to take care of one another’s needs. In order to do this we must meet together. We must be plugged into a community. It makes me think of what my Dad told me:
“Even the brightest ember snuffs out when pulled out of the fire,
but a bonfire will blaze through the night.”
This is what Shalom Shalom is all about for me and for the 11 other women who gather under its banner. It is about us gathering together. It is us meeting so that we can spur one another on in this marathon that is life. It is about coming in, giving and receiving, and leaving full.
Gathering together in community is something we all need to do. It is also something that God equips us to do. In Romans 12:3-8, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4:11-13, God tells us how he gives us talents and gifts, so that when do gather together, we have the special ability to do exactly what He asks of us in Hebrews; “to spur one on...encouraging one another.”
This all sounds well and good, but how do we get from knowing what God has said to doing it?
The first step of gathering together with other believers is to get plugged into a church community. This is like walking into a huge family reunion. There will be all sorts of ‘family members’ here. There will be that weird uncle that is a tad batty, an elderly aunt that smells funny but means well, perhaps a grandmother that loves you and yet doesn’t quite understand you, children running about, and a sister with who you can sit. It is a big family where God is patriarch, and church day is the family reunion.
We, however, don’t live everyday life with such a large group as the whole church. That would be too chaotic. So, the next step is to find yourself a smaller group to gather with, a core family unit, if you will. This is who you can do the ins and outs of daily life with.
This smaller gathering can look any way you want it to: a sunday school, a small group at someone's home, a women’s Bible study, a work day lunch meeting, friends getting together at a coffee shop...the possibilities are endless.
God doesn't specify how it looks, so we have freedom to be creative. For me, that means Shalom Shalom. We meet Wednesday at 7 at Amy’s house. We do food and fellowship and then we gather around the Word to talk about what we learned that week. We pray and take a selfie before we close. Then we trickle home when we think we can’t stay any longer.
Finding this small gathering of sisters in Christ isn’t always easy to do. Some of us are lucky and fall into a great group of women and others have to put forth the effort. Ultimately this responsibility to gather together is ours. Solomon said it like this in Proverbs 18: 24:
“A man that has friends must show himself friendly…”
The point is that it takes effort and work. So, if you are one of the many standing on the sidelines because a small group hasn’t just jumped out and grabbed you, here are some tips make this task of gathering together easier.
- Ask around at church and see what is available.
- Consider joining a small group or sunday school class.
- Ask people you respect what they do and see if you can imitate or join them.
- Ask women around you who love Jesus to start meeting.
Once you have found this community keep a couple things in mind:
- We are to “Spur one another on towards love and good works.” Hebrews 10:24
- The best way to do this is to spend time in the Word together.
- Practically this means picking some kind of curriculum. The sky is the limit for possibilities. We, of course, encourage you to join us at Reachingher.com with Titus starting September 6th.
- We cannot spur one another on unless we “Gather Together.” Hebrews 10:25
- To do this you must join one or more women.
- Make sure to set a date, time, and place where you will meet together.
- As we gather together we are to “Encouraging one another.” Hebrews 10:25
- Don’t forget that we are given gifts with which to serve one another, so use your gifts and serve however God made you to do so.
- Be willing to give and take: listen intentionally and share honestly.
Isn’t God kind to create a way for us to help one another, to encourage one another, to spur one another on? Isn’t God kind to give us a way to fulfill the needs that we have in our lives? Isn’t it kind of God to give us the ability and the platform to serve?
It is our choice whether or not we step into this role of filling others up as we ourselves get filled. I had to make the choice. Shalom Shalom is after a 12 hour work day. I go there before I turn towards home, family, and bed. This decision was one of the best ones I've made and I have reaped so much joy from it. So my plea to you is to not ‘forsake gathering together as some are in the habit of doing.’
Instead be bold and courageous and find sisters to meet with!
Hannah Michael Wolfkill Snyder has always loved all of her names (yes, each one is on her passport!). However, the name she loves the most is Jesus. Jesus taught her how to play in the throne room of Heaven and sit in the lap of God the Father. This is her identity, where her heart loves to abide (even if her hands and feet are busy on earth running a household or meeting up with people). Because of her joy in the Father, her heart’s desire is to show women their God given identity in the kingdom of Heaven. You can find her on Instagram.