By Renee Molner
For the past few years, a few days before New Years, I’ve gone to an online “Word of the Year” generator to pick a word to focus on for the upcoming year. It gives you a word such as “peace” or “fearless” or “presence” to meditate on throughout the upcoming year. It’s interesting to see how your word weaves its way into the fabric of your year. My word has made me pause at moments when things get chaotic and somehow helps me to live in the present more. And it’s seemed incredibly fitting, as 2019 as gone on, that my word for this year is “community.”
In the first reading today, Joshua and Moses are in battle with Amalek. It reads, “As long as Moses kept his hands raised up, Israel had the better of the fight” (Ex 17:11). And as Moses grows tired, he has his relatives Aaron and Hur to help. “Meanwhile, Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other, so that his hands remained steady till sunset” (Ex 17:12). And Joshua and Moses win the battle.
It’s become increasingly evident to me this year that we were not made to do this alone. We were not made to go through life or grow in faith on our own; instead, we’re made for community. We are imperfect creatures who struggle with loneliness and sometimes try to rely too much on ourselves. In the beginning, God created woman to be with man. Genesis 2:18 shows God saying, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” Up until then, He has been proclaiming after each creation that it is good. This is the first time He says that something is not good.
As Moses had Aaron and Hur to help him as his strength is failing, we need people to do the same for us. I’ve felt particularly blessed this year being a part of a young professional/graduate women Bible study. Meeting weekly with these women encourages me. It reminds me that I’m not alone, and I learn so much more from them than I would’ve learned if I were on my own. Every single week, the Holy Spirit shows up to me through these friends I’ve made, and I’ve gotten to know God so much better because of it.
It can seem intimidating to join a group of people at first, but sometimes we need to take that plunge to truly grow in ways we didn’t know were possible. The overall Newman Center community has given me so many other communities: my friends from when I went to college at Mizzou, my Bible study ladies, the other staff members who encourage and support me, and the Life Teen community with whom I am so grateful to experience life. I try to stress the importance of community to the teens; we start Life Nights with family-style dinners, and we start Confirmation classes with snacks and conversation. We meet in small groups as much as possible to make close connections. We were not made to do this alone.
Life is hard. But we are incredibly blessed. We get to walk to Heaven with wonderful people surrounding us. This is not a solo journey. We have others to pick us up when we fall, to guide us when we get lost, and to celebrate with us through the milestones. Somewhere along the way, God makes Himself known through each of the people we encounter. Sometimes we just need to remember to turn to those who walk with us and hold up their arms throughout the battle. We’ll fight the good fight together, knowing that God wins, and we get to experience that win together.