In the New Testament letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul writes these words – “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep“ (12:15). Paul was writing to a community of believers in the city of Rome in the first century. He wanted them to share life together, celebrate with each other in good times, and support each other when they were feeling overwhelmed and sad.
As I read these words, I realise that Glasgow City Mission staff, volunteers and guests live them out from day to day. We celebrate with one another when things go well, and share in the sadness when life is difficult. For example, we recently celebrated with one of our staff team, Linda, on the occasion of her wedding. We held a virtual zoom “hen party” in which we played some games, talked wedding dresses and makeup, dispensed “wisdom” for her married life, and prayed for her and her husband to be. Over recent months, we have rejoiced with two of our guests who have given birth to healthy babies. We have delighted in the fact that some of our guests have been thriving in rehab. We have given thanks that one of our guests now has his own accommodation after years of struggling with alcohol and homelessness. We have rejoiced when our international guests have been given leave to remain following their asylum claims. We have been delighted that so many of our guests who came to the Overnight Welcome Centre have been helped to find accommodation and are now receiving follow-up care.
At the same time, we have been weeping with those who weep. Week by week many of our international asylum seeker guests wait, wait, wait for news regarding their cases, and sometimes they are disappointed. So often they find that they have to go through the whole long arduous process all over again. We weep with them and wait with them and support them the best we can. We weep with those who find that they continue to struggle with addiction, broken relationships and physical and mental health problems. We weep when we hear of another drugs related death in our city. We have been grieving with some of our guests who are struggling with loneliness and isolation. We weep with guests who have had to flee domestic violence and find themselves homeless as a result. And we have wept with some of our colleagues who have faced health difficulties and bereavement.
The Message translation puts it this way: “Laugh with your friends when they are happy, share tears when they are down.” These words are all about authentic community, of being real together. It is all about sharing life and supporting each other, without glossing over the reality of our difficulties and struggles when things get tough. I praise God for all those who make up the community of Glasgow City Mission – staff, volunteers and guests alike – who “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”