While the official beginning of Winter is not until December 21, we got our first real taste of wintertime temperatures this week here in the Tulsa area.  The thermometer didn’t seem to care about the calendar in the least.  Neither did the wind. 

It was about 20 degrees one morning when I drove in to the office.  As I passed the entrance of a housing development, I noticed a group of children waiting for the school bus to pick them up.  Thankfully, all of them were wearing coats, but with the wind blowing like it was, I know they had to be getting cold.  That probably explains why they were positioned like they were.  They were “huddled.”  They were facing one another in a very tight circle with their hands in their pockets.  Their heads were bent down into the circle, shielded from the cold wind.  They looked like penguins or other animals that you might see on a nature or wildlife program.  They were sympathetically and symbiotically utilizing their resources for the benefit of everyone in the group.  Everyone contributed to “the cause” and everyone gained from it.

God has “huddled” us in the body of His Son.  He didn’t just save us through the blood of Jesus Christ and then leave us in isolation to sink or swim on our own.  He didn’t abandon us to a solitary life of trying to “fend for ourselves” spiritually.  He added us to an assembly, a church, a community of “called out” people, a vast priesthood of believers, a kingdom of heaven’s citizens, and a family.  We exist interdependently.  We bear one another’s burdens.  We rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.  We restore and lift one another up in a spirit of humility and gentleness, realizing our own weaknesses and need for help.  We encourage and spur one another on to love and good deeds.  Like the early church in Jerusalem, we pool our resources so that no one’s needs go unmet. 

Those schoolchildren could have demanded their independence, insisted that their coat was their own, proudly and stubbornly kept their distance from one another, and each of them would have suffered for it.  But they found warmth, strength, and comfort in togetherness.  We distance ourselves from God’s people only to our own hurt and the detriment of others.  “I need you. You need me. We’re a happy family!”  Apologies to Barney and Friends for altering their theme song.  I also sincerely apologize for putting that tune into your head for the rest of the day!