From One Sunday to the Next

we don’t know.

We don’t know what a person
has gone through,
the person in front of us,
behind us,
beside us,
with two Sundays serving as bookends.

We don’t know
the gains,
the losses,

where hope increased,
where it all but disappeared,

the unexpected good news that came
or the call they weren’t quite ready for.

We don’t know
what fell on another’s ears,
words of encouragement
or words that wound.

We don’t know
if a chat with a close friend
was savored the entire week
or if endless hours of social networking
heightened feelings of isolation.

We don’t know their need.
We barely know our own at times.

And so, to be MINDFUL
of our not knowing.
A good first step, that.

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. – Galatians 5:6 (NIV).

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.Romans 12:10 (NIV).

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.Galatians 6:2 (NIV).

About Marilyn

Reading, thinking, listening, writing and talking about faith, creativity, ESL for refugees, grief and finding the story in a story. Student of Spanish. Foe of procrastination. Cheez-it fan. People person with hermit tendencies or vice-versa. Thank you so much for reading.
This entry was posted in community, compassion, people, Sabbath. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to From One Sunday to the Next

  1. deidra says:

    Good point…being mindful that we just don’t know it all.

    This stirs up in me a question that’s been brewing just beneath the surface. I’m wondering where people go to share their “stuff.” I am married to a pastor, and go to church every Sunday, but people rarely share what’s going on with them. Even when I ask I get the standard answer, “Fine.”

    Is your experience any different?


    • Marilyn says:

      I was going to answer you privately, Deidra, but I thought others may want to chime in here because it IS a huge topic! I’m afraid my response may be longer than the post!

      My prayer is that everyone has at least ONE someone to share their ‘stuff’ with, someone who may or may not be in our church but, either way, can be a good sounding board, can steer aright (if any steering is called for), can listen well, can respect privacy, etc. It may not be the same person all the time. It can vary according to life events. But I pray that God sends each person at least one other person.

      I started praying this in 2005 and when I see it happening here and there, now and again, I am so delighted. I do not feel competitive, such as “Why aren’t they coffee-ing with ME and telling ME their deepest darkest secrets?” I can champion from a distance.

      As for “FINE,” I understand what you mean. You don’t want people hiding behind a mask around you. I agree! But I once had a person in my life that would not accept “fine,” felt it was fake and I so didn’t like her implication that I was lying that I decided always to accept and respect a person’s “fine.”

      The question “HOW ARE YOU?” is a problem and I’ve found changing it around a bit, to maybe “Tell me something that happened to you this week” or “It’s been a while. Where are your thoughts these days?” (for those people where this would not be awkward – not for everyone) gets people off the “How are fine/Fine, and you?/Fine” soundtrack.

      Anyone else? Join in!


  2. annie says:

    Ah, good idea Marilyn. I am one of those people who never knows what to say to people…”how has your week been” is always a good one for me.

    I must say that people have to have an element of trust build up slowly I think, to be able to feel free to confide in others. I know that they are not necessarily going to share it around with all and sundry, after you may have unburdened some of your deepest thoughts/feelings.

    I have always felt that a smal group is more the place for that kind of sharing, because there you are meeting with the same small group over a period of time, and get to know each other well.

    At tennis I once knew a lady (now a nice friend) who could always pick up on my mood. I used to, once upon a time go to play tennis and not say a word much to others, (when I first arrived in this town…I am usually a very quiet person, I quite liked sitting listening to people) until she kept drawing me out, and starting to make me feel included. And it was she who knew at one stage, that what I really needed was a holiday (from bringing up the 3 kids on my own). Very perceptive!

    But if I really need someone to pray for me/with me , I mostly always ring my sister- in- law/brother- in- law (who is a pastor). For some reason they are the ones that I can trust with what needs to be unburdened at times. Thankfully not so often now.

    What I really don’t like is when someone who, once you have told them your worries, then wants to fix it all up for you!! When all you really needed was a listening ear, a caring heart, or maybe someone to pray for or with you.

    Sorry I have wombled along here. It was your comment Marilyn thta unloosed my brain. Sometimes it takes a while for me to work out what it is I want/need to say!


    • Marilyn says:

      Feel free to womble on, Annie! I enjoyed all you had to say, especially about how small groups are often the soil from which more details exchanges can spring, slowly. LOVE the anecdote about the person who picked up on your moods and knew how to draw you out.


  3. annie says:


    That should read “To know…” in the second para, second sentence.

    and a couple of other glitches there too, sorry.

    note to self..always proof read before publishing!


  4. Marilyn says:

    Another thought on this: It is not always necessary to know the specifics of what’s going on with someone in order to minister to them.


    • deidra says:

      Enjoying this conversation. And I agree. There isn’t a need to know specifics and “Fine” is sometimes just fine.

      I guess I’m just wondering specifically about people’s experiences in church. Do they have someone there they can count on? Are they (like Annie) part of a small group? When do they go to their pastor? Where are people finding community these days? What role is the church serving?

      I’ve noticed some small changes in these areas, and it makes me curious about whether others have seen the same.


  5. Marilyn says:

    If you’re talking about the movement AWAY from the church as hub – the primary place where help is sought and received – I think recent Barna Group research, including trends identified in the book unChristian and the growing Organic Church movement point to these shifts in the way we “do” church. Is this what you are sensing, referring to?


    • deidra says:

      Yes. That’s it. I’ve peeked at the links you’ve provided (how do you do that in the comments, anyway?) and it looks like some stuff I’ll have to hunker down and read. Thanks for the conversation here. It’s good food for thought. As always. ; )


  6. Belinda says:

    Hi Marilyn (and Deidra,)
    I am completely a believer in small groups. At our cell group we have supper together each week and do a study. One man, divorced, just told me, “This is the highlight of my week.” During our studies, we hash out things that would never come to the surface in church including airing ideas that are off track. This is a place where people can express troubling questions about faith. A small group can be Community. It isn’t the same as corporate worship and does not replace that wonderful weekly experience.


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