Community Apart

"It depends."

That is the answer I got when I asked my family if they like doing things together or alone. It depends on what they are doing. I think most people, including myself, would say the same thing. When I am reading or writing, I like to be alone. Going on a vacation, eating meals, hiking, bible studies, shopping, and pretty much anything else, I have to be with others. 

We are created to be in community, so it's natural that we desire to be with others. God models community from the beginning of the world: "Let "us" make man in "our" image. Genesis 1:26

He is three persons in one, and we are made in His image, meaning that we are relational beings, always have been. 

I love the part in the Christmas story about the shepherds because they model community well. They were out in their fields, watching over their flocks as a group. After the angel came to them and told them the good news about Jesus, they made a plan to see the Christchild for themselves, together. 

'When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, "Let's go to Bethlehem! Let's see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."' -Luke 2:15

It is in our DNA to be together as we worship our creator. Sadly, this year brings another dark spot: we can't be with other believers in celebration this advent season. We are the body of Christ, and yet, we can't physically be together this Christmas, at least not the way we used to.

Is a body disconnected still alive?

Tony Evans writes:

"A human body has organization that makes it function, but it also is an organism. It's a living, breathing life. Connection in the body is necessary for function and for life, and it is essential if we are to leave a lasting impact and impression on our society and in our world."*

I sat down to pray the other night before bed trying to reconcile how we are supposed to have community in a time where we can't physically be together. Then God brought this little reminder: we aren't just physical bodies.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. - Romans 8:9-11 

Since we are in the Spirit we are connected beyond the face-to-face interactions. Jesus knits us together with His Holy Spirit. We are connected "apart" through the body of Christ. 

While we may not be in the same room with our community for a time, we can rest in the fact that our "body" still functions as a living breathing organism within our world. God can and will continue to work within His church with or without our gatherings. While being in person is always life-giving, for this short time, I will keep the vision of the shepherds walking together towards the King.


  1. Find a plan. YouVersion is a great resource for connecting people through scripture. There are a few advent plans you can go through. Invite one, two, or a few friends and dive in. 
  2. Schedule weekly dates. This can be a walk or a virtual coffee date. Regular time with your closest friends is crucial for spiritual health. 
  3. Remember. It’s just a season. It seems like a really long and lonely season but it will pass. Keep talking with the Lord, letting Him remind you of His goodness, faithfulness, and perfect plan, even in the darkest night. 


JL McCarthy

December 8, 2020