Ok so yeah… I know Christmas was a few months ago, but this morning my mind has been full of this scene from one of my favorite movies, “It’s a Wonderful Life”. And the scene that keeps playing in my head is when there is a run on the bank. People are anxious and panicking. They are ready to make bad decisions as they swarm into the Bailey Building and Loan. They want their money now, but their money isn’t there it’s in “Joe’s house. That’s right next to yours. And in the Kennedy house and Mrs. Macklin’s house and a hundred others.” It’s a great metaphor for community, especially a religious community. Because if you think you are a part of a church for yourself… for your own faith alone… so you can consume your share of the religion… you’ve got it all wrong. Your faith isn’t here like it’s in a vault someplace for you to come and make withdrawals… it’s in your neighbor’s faith. It’s in that kid’s faith you taught in Sunday school. It’s in the faith of the choir member who sings next to you, the person who you brought a casserole to in a time of grief, the one you worked next to on the Session and traveled with on that mission project. Your faith is a part of the faith of the whole community… and their faith is in your own faith.
Or to borrow Paul’s words from I Corinthians 12… “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” and “Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many.”
Of course, as the scene in the movie plays out, Tom is having none of it and demands his $242 reasoning that “$242 isn’t going to break anybody.” What Tom breaks is community, which is shown not much later as George uses what would have been his honeymoon money to help the anxious people who have real need giving away $20 dollars here and there. As George Bailey tells them, “Now we… we can get through this thing all right. We’ve… we’ve got to stick together, though. We’ve got to have faith in each other.”
It’s such a great scene from a great movie. Over the years I’ve noticed one small detail that is easy to miss. Just before he goes out to face the anxious crowd in the Bailey Building and Loan lobby, George looks at a picture of his deceased father who spent his whole life fighting the same battles… and underneath that picture is what looks like a cross-stitched saying… “All you can take with you is that which you’ve given away.”
As a community of faith… with faith in God and faith in one another… we will face whatever challenges this coronavirus brings to us. We will aspire to the best of who God is calling us to be and will choose the principles of our faith over anxious reasoning.
Elise and I called most of our members yesterday who are alone or more at risk from the coronavirus. We will be making those phone calls again in a few days to keep checking on folks. If you have your handy dandy new directory at home, you can do the same thing. Stay in touch with each other. Be the community of faith even as we can’t gather together. This might be an opportunity for you to make a new connection and call someone especially if they are geographically close to you. We can make it through this. We just have to stick together. We have to have faith in one another.
If you’ve never seen the movie. Now’s a good time.
Let me encourage you to continue to give your tithe/offering to the church during this time. I realize that for some of you, you may be losing work and pay as things shut down and you may be experiencing a financial hardship. This is the time when those who are able need to step up and we need to carry one another. If you’re financially able please continue to give to the church. If you are a check writer, drop it in the mail. If you are online savvy, use your online banking bill pay or visit the website and press the “donate” button on the bottom of the pages and give through the Paypal account. Again… if you are able… give extra for your community of faith… designate some to the pastor’s discretionary fund and that may help us to help out our members who are going to be financially hit hard by this virus.
We will try to keep the church office open as long as we can. You can call us here between 9am and 2pm. You can reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org We will be communicating with you through email, phone calls, on Facebook and through the website. Stay safe and we’ll talk soon.
Yours in Christ,