15 So it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
1 Corinthians 12:15-16
15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body?
I believe that we have made the theological case for belonging as a value of God from the very beginning. This has massive implications for how we are to live our lives. We are not to be doing this alone, we are to be in community, and those communities are to be easily accessible and places where people feel as if they belong. While we create these communities, we do it based on the belonging we experience that comes from being in the presence of God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit everyday.
As we begin to understand the importance of belonging, we are also urged to understand that we belong not just to God, but we belong to one another in and through the church. By belonging to one another we begin to take responsibility for each other, and care for each other in different ways.
I have three children, and they are starting to find lives of their own. We are incredibly excited for them, but at the same time, our house, this community of people is starting to feel like it is empty compared to how it has been for years. Our little community of belonging is changing. What is important is for us to understand that those kids can come home at any point and will always belong, no matter what happens.
When communities change, it can feel as if we no longer belong to them, or that we are a little rudderless. But true communities of belonging are places where you will always belong. They are places that you can always go back to, and places that will make sure you are greeted and welcomed back with open arms.
One of the hardest things as a pastor is when you see someone you haven’t seen for a while and you greet them. People who haven’t seen you in church have a tendency to feel a little guilt and I am often greeted with, “oh pastor, I haven’t been there for a while, I’ll come soon. . .” When the truth is, that was not why I was greeting the person. I was greeting them, because I believe in communities of belonging, and when I see you, you are still part of my community, in church or not. If our orbits have spent some time in parallel, you and I are connected. This is why we make sure that no greeter at the church will ask someone where they have been, rather, will just say, “we are glad you are back, you are always welcome!”
- Where is your community of belonging?
- What role do you play in that community?
- How often do you go back to that community?
- Has it ever changed and left you feeling rudderless?
- What did you do to reconnect with it?
- What do you do when you feel like you are isolated and not connecting with the other parts of the community?
- How can we help?
I have friends and even close family members that I don’t connect with on a regular basis but when we do it is just like we were together yesterday. The love and care that we have for one another never ceases.
It is quite different to be part of a community based 400 miles from where I live but the connection is the same. We do a number of small groups virtually. Some with people even in distant locations and that lays a foundation of connection and community. Again, the love and care we have for each other is something I didn’t realize was possible. However, when we are able to see each other in person it is even better. We were so blessed by the Crosswalk Conference and anniversary celebration and are blessed weekly through the Zoom studies and virtual worship. Thank you for allowing us to belong. You certainly do Lovewell.