Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. — Romans 12:15
As someone who has spent most of the past 20 years working in the local church, this might be my favorite description of the church. We are a people who rejoice together – in seasons of great joy, we celebrate with one another. Anniversaries, birthdays, engagements, pregnancies, successful surgeries, long term sobriety — these are all causes for celebration in the body of Christ. And as we gather together as the people of God, we gather in a spirit of mutual joy as we celebrate with our brothers and sisters. We say to one another, “When you are joyful, I am joyful, because together we are the body of Christ.”
But the other side of this is the mutual sorrow and grief we share. We are a people who weep together. And these sources of pain are myriad in any church. Loss of loved ones, failing marriages, addiction, terminal diagnosis, prodigal family members, intellectual doubt, loneliness, relapse, abuse — these are all causes for weeping in the body of Christ. And as we gather together as the people of God, we gather in a spirit of mutual sorrow as we weep with our brothers and sisters. We also say to one another, “When you hurt, I hurt, because together we are the body of Christ.”
I’ve been a part of two funerals in the past week. Both men were longtime members of our church family. I’ve seen God’s people rally around these families to provide care and comfort in the forms of prayer, embrace, and (just as importantly!) good food. I’ve seen brothers and sisters sharing in the burden of grief alongside these families. Not that our grief matches theirs; losses are usually felt most acutely in the family. But there is some comfort when you find your tears streaming down the face of the body of Christ. And I’ve surely seen that this week.
And at the other end of the spectrum, this weekend I will officiate the wedding of a young lady who grew up in our church. And the moment promises to be a time of tremendous joy. Friends and family will gather to witness bride and groom pledge themselves in covenant love before the Lord. And afterward, we’ll enjoy a season of celebration and embrace and (just as importantly!) good food. And this family will share in the joy that comes when you find your smile spread wide across the face of the body of Christ.
This is the church, the places where seasons converge.