“What brought you to the area?” Invariably, that is one of the first questions asked of a newcomer on a Sunday morning. For the short-timers, this translates as “Do we have anything in common that can translate into a fast friendship?” For longer-term residents, this means “How long will you be here and is this relationship worth the investment?”
As newlyweds and new to the city, we arrived in Cambridge in the fall of 2008 for graduate school and found CTK within the first couple of weeks. Or rather, it found us. We visited, were invited to lunch our first Sunday and to a community group the following Wednesday. CTK was a beacon of hope in the city and a place where my husband and I, sojourners for a five-year season, were nourished not just on Sunday mornings, but during the week each and every week.
In that first year, our community group was filled with PhD students, post-docs, residents, physicians, and law students. We were surrounded by our own “great cloud of witnesses” who had walked the path before us. They knew what we were facing, and they enveloped us with love and care—encouraging faith in the midst of exam time and summer job searches, sharing wisdom in the face of early marital challenges, giving grace and a listening ear during bouts of depression and faithlessness.
Time and again, the Lord provided men to run with my husband weekly, to listen and share truth for his conflicted soul. He provided prayer warriors, gentle words for our hearts, late-night meals, and, most of all, truth—the truth that comes from the Gospel alone. This truth that tells us, “fear not, for I am with you” The truth that reminds us that it’s not about us—not about our career goals or successes, our publications or summer associateships—but about the God of the universe, the keeper of our souls, the One who was, is, and is to come, the Alpha, the Omega, the beginning and end; the end all, be all. We fought it, strove against it, and yet were reminded again and again, in community, that “all blessing and glory be to our God forever and ever.” “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” (Revelation 7:12; Psalm 115:1)
This Wednesday night community group invested in us deeply that first year. And that June, we saw many members move away, leaving us a much smaller, core community group. The next four years, our community group composition changed, on average, every six months. The people changed, but the mission of love remained the same.
I think back to every face in that five-year time and the way that each person was a crucial piece of our story. Wayfarers traveling in the same direction, we desperately needed each other’s support along the way. The Lord is building up a vibrant community of believers in the Boston area, some who will stay and many who will depart, leaving a piece of their hearts in the city and taking treasures of hope and truth with them to their next Babylon.
CTK community groups are beacons of hope and lifelines during challenging years. Don’t harden your heart for fear of loss, but love deeply in each season, however long it lasts. Most of all, give freely when it’s time to say goodbye, knowing that the Lord brought you together for an important season and that it’s never truly “goodbye,” just “see you later.”
Richard and Jordan Baumer moved to Boston as newlyweds in 2008 for Richard's PhD program and Jordan's legal studies. Five years later, Dow Chemical Co. brought them to Midland, Michigan, where they now live with their two precious sons.
Community Groups have begun in each CTK/Grace congregation around the city. Please consider how you can become involved in a group near you. More information is available on your congregation's website.