Sean, Sara, and I brought back countless great memories from our trip – historic sites, amazing art, fun with friends. But there’s one moment we will cherish as a joyous and unexpected blessing.

Because we were a large group, restaurants usually had to split us up into multiple tables for dinner. But one of our last nights in Scotland, we ate at a charming Italian restaurant that constructed a table for all 29 of us. As dinner was served, Sean, Sara, and I joined hands to pray, as we had every night. When we were at smaller tables, we’d invite the rest of the table to join us. This night, we invited the people nearest us to join us – and then watched in delight as they asked the people next to them to join. Sara’s face lit up as she asked, “Are we going to get everyone?” Sean laughed in joy: “All the way around.”

Soon, we had a complete circle: The whole group was holding hands. We requested that the director ask the blessing, and he offered God and the group lovely words of praise and gratitude.

It was a wonderful moment of grace and unity – that began with an outstretched hand. How often do we miss the opportunity to reach out to someone else in a simple act of kindness, love, or sympathy? How often are our hands and heads occupied with tasks that are rote and meaningless, when they could be focused on the work of the Lord? How often is a new friend, a new brother or sister in Christ, within reach of our not-yet outstretched hand?

Let us reach out to one another in joy and love. Let us join hands around the table of the Lord and be united and uplifted by our love for Him. Let us cherish that unity and build upon it, for our strength and to His glory.

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Philippians 2:1-3