By Ruth DuCharme

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, April 26, 2018

Do you remember a moment when you came to the realization that your life was not your own? For me, it occurred when our first child was born. We had this beautiful, healthy baby girl that we were crazy in love with, yet we were terrified of her at the same time. Caitlyn was totally dependent on Cass and me to meet her every need. We were her providers and protectors. We were responsible for her physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. There were moments when that realization overwhelmed me, and I questioned whether or not I was up for the task.

As time passed, and we became more at ease with our new daughter, we became lifelong learners of the notion that being a family means sacrifice and hard work. We learned that our lives were not our own – that we were a part of something big, beautiful, and bright that stretched beyond our individual lives. It was a choice we had made to become parents, to give life, and to nurture life, and that decision would set the course of our life in a new direction. Decisions are like that. Every day we make decisions – some are small and some are large. Those daily choices fill our lives with possibilities and probabilities. The decisions we make today determine our tomorrows and the tomorrows of those with whom we are connected.

In the church, as in a family, lives are woven together and individual decisions affect the whole. The suffering of one becomes the suffering of all. The joy of one becomes the joy of all. Author Wes Moore calls this empathetic love. He says, “sympathetic love is that love when I am doing something for you because I feel bad for you. Empathetic love is when I am doing something for you because your pain is my pain.” The hymn writer Richard Gillard says it another way, “I will weep when you are weeping, when you laugh I’ll laugh with you; I will share your joy and sorrow, till we’ve seen this journey through.”

We stand on the shoulders of others who made sacrifices and decisions that gave us the opportunity to be a part of a faith community. We journey in this place with each other and for each other. If we are true to the calling of Christ to be the church in this world, then we must be connected to each other. There is power in our decision to be Christ’s church in this place that we call Highland Hills. We determine the direction and life of this church by the decisions that we make both as individuals and as a corporate body. Our voices and our presence matter. With all of the choices that you will make today, will you decide to be a part of something big, beautiful and bright?