This past Monday evening brought the airing of the final episode of “Corner Gas”. If you’ve never watched it, Corner Gas was a Canadian-written, Canadian-produced, Canadian-directed show that aired on CTV for six seasons. It definitely went out on a high: some 3 million Canadians watched the final episode. It averaged more than 1.5 million viewers each week during its tenure on Monday nights. It was Canada’s most successful home-grown situation comedy program.
I was sad to see it go. I lament its end the way some people mourned the termination of M*A*S*H. There are several reasons for this, but I want to focus on just one.
Yep, that’s it. It’s simple. Life in the fictional town of Dog River, Saskatchewan never got too complicated. How could it? Unlike other television shows, especially the dramas, Corner Gas kept life simple. Life hovered around the local café and the local gas station; they were attached. Sometimes, things happened in other parts of town, but it was simple, basic small town life. And I loved watching it.
I’ve lived in communities as small as 750 people (still slightly bigger than Dog River’s alter ego, Rouleau) and as large as 2 million – and several in between. Even when I was a student, I committed to blooming where I was planted, making the best of wherever God placed me. Now, I live in a town of 3200, and I’m still trying to bloom where I’m planted. What I like about these smaller communities is that there is, arguably, a greater opportunity to experience simplicity in life.
Even in Dog River, there was politics; that’s impossible to get away from. But to be able to experience the joy of being in community with the people in the place you live (which we, ironically, call a ‘community’!) is a real joy I’m beginning to experience. For example, on Thursday, I had a full morning planned in the office, but got a call early on asking if I might meet someone for coffee at Tim’s a little later in the morning. I agreed, surmising that I could do the work I had planned for the morning in the afternoon (and I did). Then, on my way back to the church office after the great time getting to know a dear person in Tim’s, I encountered another dear church member, followed quickly by a neighbour. These ladies were on foot, and I was on my bicycle. We chatted for a good 15 minutes or so, just enjoying the pleasure of each other’s company.
In this simpler life, I’m learning that these last-minute calls and chance encounters are ministry. “To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be” (1 Peter 5.1-2a, NIV). Doing life in community with the people among whom I serve is perhaps the biggest part of being a ‘shepherd’ for me. And when it can happen in simplicity, well, that’s what makes it a blessing.
What about you? Wherever you live, will you live in community? After all, living in community with the people of your town – and not just your church family – is how you can most effectively be salt and light (Matthew 5.13, 14), working to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28.18-20). Work toward simplicity wherever you live, and watch the difference it makes in your opportunities to share the Lord.