Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
In the past week, I continue to find myself having conversations about community. As technology and our modes of interacting with one another change so rapidly, our understandings of what community is are also shifting. Is physical presence necessary for community? How does community change when it is mostly or completely online? Where and how do we fulfill our need for community?
I don’t know the answers to most of these questions, but they are questions I continue to wrestle with. What is clear, though, is our deep need for community. In the very beginning of our biblical story, God creates Adam, and figures out very quickly that, “it is not good for man to be alone.” And so, a partner and companion is also created.
While this story has been misused throughout the centuries to enforce damaging gender roles and the subservience of women, I believe at its heart it is a story about the necessity of community. It is truly not good for human beings to be alone. Although we know this, it is still a struggle sometimes to form and maintain deep and meaningful relationships. Things get in the way: a lack of time, distance from one another, other relationships like children and parents can call us away.
One of the things we try to do as a church is to be a community together. And not just a community, but an intentionally Christian one, shaped by the ethics of God’s kingdom. What does that mean? All are welcome here. We can be our authentic selves—this is not a community of perfect people, but of imperfect people seeking to support and care for one another. We practice forgiveness and reconciliation when things go wrong. We share love in word and deed. Of course, we are not perfect in living up to these ideals. All communities have growing pains, especially when, like the church, they are formed of people with different backgrounds.
During Lent, we often talk about renewal and growth in our spiritual lives. More often than not, this centers around individuals’ lives. What if we also took Lent as an opportunity to think about renewal and growth in our community’s life? Where are we not living up to being the community God has called us to be? How can we make meaningful changes that will help us embrace the potential this community has for each of us?
It’s not something I can answer—it’s something we must answer together. Step one, though, is being present in community together. Whether it’s Sunday morning worship, Sunday School, Wednesday soup and bread suppers, or a small group, I invite you to consider these opportunities, not as one more thing to do, but as a gift from God. The gift of community, of togetherness. It is up to us to be faithful stewards of this gift, that we might all know its beauty and blessings.