July 2018 Musings

CommunityI once read a blog that shared the life, through a personal journal, of the great-grandfather of the person who was producing the material online. In it the man walked all over where he lived, worked, shopped and went to church in Roanoke City (where I currently live), 100 years earlier. It was a walk back in time and a delight to read of places that have since changed, of old businesses and of a different way of life. It was exciting to read about places I had been and even in places where I worked.There was a lot that was different, between my time and his. Once he wrote of a time, everyone gathered when a local church burned. People were not there to watch it burn, but to gather to see one another in a time of loss. The were there to console one another and get to know who was impacted by the loss. This was not his church, but knew people who went there. He knew how it would feel to lose his home church. The thing that stood out to me, was they were not sitting at home watching it alone on the TV or streaming on a mobile device. They were there together.The other thing Bonnie, the man in the diary, did was attend different churches. He went to one in the morning and usually another one in the afternoon on Sunday. Then might go to a different one during the week. This was not just to attend another service, because he referenced going to visit with people or he went to hear different people speak. Recently I thought of this, as I spoke of a gathering we had once a month with a small group of Parrish members at a church we use to belong to. During these gatherings the host family shared their homes and lives. Each time offered an opportunity to learn. To learn how they lived prayed and an opportunity to share about our lives. It became more than about coffee and snacks after service, it was about becoming a part of one another’s lives. It felt different than meeting in a public place, because of the personal hospitality offered to us. In a time where there is immediate access to world events and community news, it is easy to lose the impact it makes on the communities we are a part of. Not just the community that is directly impacted, but of the loss of understanding how to empathetically connect to others. To share compassion and/or hospitality someone may offer or has offered us. This separation also makes it easier to feel one way is better than another way to believe in God, which only further isolates us.A spiritual home is more than a place to worship, it is a place to build community and a place to learn to be with one another. As we live with such diversity inside communion, we are able to learn more about the differences and similarities we hold. Then we learn how we can be present with one another. To learn how to accept things we cannot change and how to change things inside of ourselves when we can, as we become more fully present in our life and in the lives of others. The idea of community looks different for each of us. The feeling of community holds different types of connection. To be present in community also offers us an opportunity to to learn to be vulnerable in the unknown, as we learn to meet one another in that vulnerable space. This can help us deepen the faith we have in ourselves, which is also faith in God’s grace. Just as the colors of a rainbow blend into one another to make it whole, we can blend together to be whole.

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