My First Sunday in Dublin

 

 

 

Written by former City Church member Elizabeth Reilly

 

My first Sunday in Dublin, I put on my boots, zipped up my raincoat and walked northward across town, checking google maps every 2 minutes. As I tried to calm the butterflies in my stomach, I noticed the streets were empty. Was I the only one headed to church? As I approached St. Patrick’s cathedral, the church bells tolled and I watched the tourists snap pictures on the lawn. I may have taken a photo or two myself.

As I neared the doors of City Church, I remember feeling nervous and marveling at the fact that I had never had to “church shop” before. I had been following Jesus for a while and yet, I was anxious.

Would anyone talk to me? Would this church be the right fit? What would the music be like?

I hail from Tallahassee, smack dab in the middle of Florida’s panhandle. On that first Sunday, I was aching for my community. The glamour of life abroad had worn off and I was very aware of my need for friends.

Within 10 seconds of setting foot into City, I was welcomed, talked to and force fed biscuits. In short: I was made to feel at home. During the service, a committed member of the church sat next to me instead of her husband –perhaps, because she knew I desperately needed a buddy that day.

I had a list of churches to consider in Dublin. City just happened to be the first. Yet, after that day, I decided to stay. Not because it matched every requirement on my “must-have checklist” but because I knew community when I saw it. And because I had found there is beauty in the choosing.

By making a choice to commit early, I had more time to invest in the people of City. I spent 4 short months in Dublin and yet, by the end of my time, I felt I had truly built a life there. I had real life-long friends and a community that knew me. I had been challenged and comforted. I had laughed until I cried and cried until I laughed. I had a place that reminded me that sometimes the best self-care practice is other-centered love.

I have been challenged recently by the verses: “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ…each will have to bear his own load” (Galations 6:2-5). During a recent bible study, we compared these two words: burdens and loads, marveling at the juxtaposition of individual responsibility and a call to dependency. I am called to carry my own “load.” Simultaneously, there are burdens that I cannot carry alone. Burdens that feel so overwhelming I could suffocate from the weight of them. This is where the Kingdom of God comes in. My sisters and brothers in Christ’s household come to my aid through the grace of God in prayer, correction, encouragement and real, tangible support. It is the most beautiful thing!

I am an only child. I was raised by a single mother most of my life. My family is small by most standards. YET, when people ask me about my family, my brain fills with snapshots of my spiritual sisters and brothers –my older sister Sarah, my younger brother Benjamin. These are my family members. These are the people who come when I am in the hospital waiting room or need a ride to the airport at o’dark thirty…or who kick my butt when it needs kicking!

This is community. This is what makes God’s Kingdom different from any other earthy Kingdom –that all are welcome, no matter your blood lineage or status. So, I leave you with this: if you find yourself in a foreign land, do a little research, find a church and plug in. Make it a priority to meet with people outside of the church walls. Do something fun with them. Treat them like brothers and sisters. Ask real questions and give real answers. Look to serve alongside them. In short, say “I’m in!” to the Kingdom of God wherever you find yourself.

At the end of your time in that place, you might just find that your family has become that much bigger and your heart has been changed for the better.