Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
When I first started out, it was a means to an end: lose some weight, gain some strength, save some money and planet pollution. The bishop had mentioned the bike ride to me a few years previously, and I had said it was not my thing, but now here I was on my bike, and all of a sudden it seemed like a reasonable idea, so I signed up for a day. The next year, I rode as far as I could before I had to come home to marry some nice people. This year, I wasn’t able to get out much, for various reasons, but since the bike ride came to us, I felt somewhat still in the loop.
Out on my bike the other day, it hit me that I no longer ride solo. Having become, rather easily, thanks to the gracious hospitality of others, part of the bishop’s bike riding community, every time I go out I feel the solidarity of their presence. I hear their voices, their cautions and concerns, kind advice. I smile at the memory of their jokes. My heart beats warmly to think of the prayers we have shared, and the silence of simple exhaustion.
That’s what community does. It keeps you company even when you are alone. It can stretch a surprisingly long way. The knowledge that others are still in community with you helps you know that you are in community with them, even if you haven’t been in physical proximity for a while. It doesn’t last forever without serious top-up time and recognition of the importance of those connections. But it can last a while. It can help you up the hills. It can make the road less lonely.
Where two or three are gathered together in the name of Christ, the Risen Presence is tangible. And kept lively, that awareness that we are not alone can last. Practiced judiciously, it can last a lifetime. Maybe longer?