The Gift of Community - Rev. Chris Shorow

I was reflecting recently on the lack of community in our world. Many years ago when the US was largely a country made up of small towns and most folks were farmers, community was very important to us. In small towns, people often sat on their porches at night and interacted with their neighbors on a daily basis. Today, many of us are lucky to know our neighbor’s name, let alone interact with them.

Building community is the gift of the Church to our world. In church, people can develop relationships and make lasting friendships in Jesus Christ that transcend the surface level. I appreciate the fact that in church, people of different generations can develop these types of relationships. I am friends with people 40 years older than me and 40 years younger than me. My children are mentored by an older generation they would not have the privilege to interact with in any other situation.

In a church community we also have the privilege of experiencing life’s most meaningful moments together. Birth, death, baptism, marriage, and great moments of faith draw us together as we claim the grace of God in all that we do. Nowhere else can give us the opportunity to experience these deep relationships.

I read an article by Philip Gulley where he stated that in the New York Times, people seeking roommates to share the rent payments now want to know the political affiliation of their potential roommate. This sort of vetting is establishing criteria for how we enter into a relationship.

But that is not how it operates in the church. We don’t conditionalize our love or God’s love. We accept others, and love them, for who they are. I am proud our wonderful Breakfast on Boulevard provides a community-building meal to anyone who shows up. No questions asked. Simply be present and share in God’s bounty.

I am struck by how often the gift of community is lifted up in scripture as well:

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! Psalm 133:1

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Romans 12:16

And we urge you, beloved, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. I Thessalonians 5:14

And my favorite, from Jesus—I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

I celebrate the gift of our church family. In agreement, disagreement we love one another with the love of Jesus Christ. May his love transform all of our lives.

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