I made some new friends a few weeks ago.
I was working late two Thursdays ago. Pastor Tom Ryberg was in the Welcome Center having just finished up practice for Koinonia’s Sunday morning worship. I came out of my office to speak with him and behind him, down the hall by the Choir Room, a boy walked in. He looked to be about 11 years old.
Even though it was dark, he had walked over to the church to find out if we were having anything special happening. Tom and I talked told him about the Halloween Spooktacular happening the next night and I gave him a flyer. My interaction with him struck me oddly. He seemed...lonely.
The next night, he and his little brother turned up at the Spooktacular. They talked with Emily Barda and I each with a sucker in their mouth, showing us the candy in their bags. I quickly realized two things: these kids have a great sense of humor and these kids were both hungry. Not only were they wanting food for their bodies, they were hungry for social connection for their hearts. They wanted someone to talk to them and laugh with them.
Even though it’s only been a week since I met them, the boys have come around the church quite a few times. Saturday morning, the older one helped the property clean up group rake leaves in exchange for donuts and “the best apple cider” he ever had.
I’ve answered questions from them about baptism and about “what that big, funny X is” (the cross on the wall in the Courtyard.) These kids aren’t coming to church to experience G-d in a church service. But they are experiencing G-d in the lives of Patrice Ott, Emily Barda, the Pastors, Lucy Lower, myself and others who have greeted them warmly and gotten to know them. They experienced G-d through Bev and John Goddard who served macaroni and cheese and cookies at Wednesday night dinner (admittedly, the kids ate more cookies than mac ‘n cheese.)
The Church is a place for finding social connection. We all need to experience G-d incarnated in the lives of people around us. We were not created to be alone. We were created to be hungry for social connection. Event like the Halloween Spooktacular give us the opportunity to reach beyond the four walls of the church to find new connections.
Every family is different. Every family has different needs. But all families need social connections to the larger community to be strong and resilient. As a community of faith, we know that this strength comes from G-d experienced in relationship with one another.