In Community: The Chance to Become
ennifer Brock Olson of Spokane, WA, USA
“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. -Luke 6:27-28, 35
[Adapted from Inland Stream Newsletter, Spring 2008]
When my sister Amy was a young bride, an overzealous priesthood member advised her that it would be better for her to leave her non-member husband rather than fall away from the “one true church.” Amy chose to stay with her husband, and together they found a non-denominational congregation. During their 33-year marriage they attended various faith communities, including Dr. Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral, a congregation of 10,000 with stellar worship services and classes. But, as Amy said, there are no perfect churches. Struggles with pastors, programs, or theology resulted in other activities taking priority.
After her cancer diagnosis, Amy felt no urge to get right with God. She had her own personal relationship to the Divine. What Amy felt a need for was a faith community, a disciplined fellowship where time and space are set aside to focus on relationship with God and one another. In Wisdom Distilled from the Daily, Joan Chittister comments on community’s purpose:
Another function of community is to enable us to be about something greater than ourselves…Life without the community of faith leaves us without a sense of more than us in life, and that is a barren life at best. When we transcend ourselves for the other, though, community becomes the sacrament of human fulfillment and purpose in life…
Before her death, Amy had planned to return to the church of her youth. She was not returning to the one true church. Creed, theology, music, and preaching were not what drew her. Amy was returning to a people who had nurtured her as a child, held her accountable as a teen, and were reaching out to her during her illness. More importantly, Amy wanted to return to a community that believed in continually searching for answers to the question, “What does it mean to be a Community of Christ?” She had come to realize the truth of Chittister’s statement, “Alone, I am what I am, but in community I have the chance to become everything that I can be.”
In God we all belong.
Sustaining Our Connections
Many find themselves isolated around the world to protect each other and the most vulnerable during this global pandemic. Spend time prayerfully imagining those people that you might normally come into contact with on a regular basis, known and unknown. Remember all the connections that sustain our lives each day. Even in this time of intentional separation, how are you experiencing deep, intrinsic belonging in God?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.