When the tide is in, a walk on the bay can be difficult in places. Oyster shells unite and form aggregates—large collections of various sized shells cemented together. Where one shell might fall prey to a gull or another predator, these oyster sets are often so large they would be difficult to attack. Their heaped up presence at the edge of the bay water makes walking troublesome because they are so difficult to separate. Certainly the aggregate offers unique protection, incorporating even small oysters into a cemented family. I’m reminded of church families, how they also offer protection, encouragement, and guidance. When we are accepted into God’s family, we are as strong as the strongest link—God—and able to give additional strength to all weaker links. The lesson of the joined oysters is a valuable one for every congregation. Dear Lord, help me to unite others; may I bring peace, encouragement, guidance and prayer into the lives I touch. Amen.