1.) We were thankful for a wonderful night at the Poe household where we could present our plans for the missions trip to Greece. The generosity and support of our church family has been a real blessing.
2.) I traveled to Gettysburg with my two sons for an overnight class field trip.
3.) I have been tying up some administrative loose ends and contacting members of our church who have moved away.
4.) I spent a few days with my mother over the mother's day weekend. It was a nice chance to unwind and catch our breath. Also a chance to reflect on my father's absence from the family. A subject I hope to explore more in the upcoming weeks.
5.) We packed and are (partially), away from Pittsburgh.
One thought that has re-occurred to me recently is the incredibly impact that people have on our lives. We are not mere products of sweeping societal forces or impersonal genetic programming. But the people that we associate with do more to shape us than we are led to believe by our modern (radically individualistic) society. The choices we make about the community that we live in does more to shape us than most nearly any other (human) factor. Here are a few random reflections along those lines:
1.) Research has shown that kids are shaped more by their peer groups at school than by their teachers. I have seen evidence of this (mostly for the positive) interacting more closely with my kids this past week and a half. I certainly am convinced that I need to pray more for their friends.
2.) James McPherson wrote concerning the battle of Gettysburg: (paraphrased) "Soldiers often entered the war because of their understanding of a cause. But the went into battle and risked their lives because of their relationships with the soldiers who became like brothers to them."
3.) The story of nearly every Christian biography that I have read recently hinged on supporting relationships with in Christian community. William King was sustained in his abolitionist convictions by his Scottish Presbyterian connections. Eric LIddell was formed in his convictions by a small group of serious believers whom he shared life with while a student. Every Christian will have seasons in which they stand alone (with God) in the midst of trail and temptation. But every Christian who grows into maturity does so in the presence of supporting relationships.
4.) I Thessalonians ends with the admonition to "encourage one another with these words" (4:18). I think also of the way in which he recognizes that we need leaders to admonish us and a community to encourage us towards growth in good works. (5:12-15)
5.) As I talk to former members of our church who have moved away, it is clear that the most important decisions that they make are whom they associate with. Those that settle down into a new church and establish relationships generally do well. Those who do not... do not do well, spiritually. There are very few exceptions to this.
To quote the one and only Billy Shears (aka: Ringo Star), we really do "get by with a little help from our friends."