Have you ever had those days or weeks when a particular idea or word keeps coming your way? Perhaps a thought or word keeps jumping out at you as you encounter it in your devotions and in something that your child or spouse says and something you hear in the media or in a sermon? I have been hearing the word "community" these past few days. Let me tell you how...I attended the Paul, The Apostle of Christ movie on Good Friday and found it to stir my soul and mind in a variety of ways, but one way, in particular, was the way that they portrayed the importance of community in the early Church. They lived in community together and needed one another for strength, assurance of their cause, ministry to others, for safety, and to share their resources for living. They were encouraged by being together and reminding one another of their purpose to spread the message of love.Then I reflected upon our Easter worship together. What a glorious day of worship and celebration of our Risen Lord and Savior!!! He died not only for my sins and your sins, but he died and redeemed the sins of all who believe in his name - he died for the Church. Our Easter worship showed how our parish family worked together in sharing gifts and talents for the glory of Christ. I heard several comments from people who were blessed when our worship offerings were done together to make something better than what we could do on our own. I heard a radio spot for Joy FM this morning that pointed out the importance of community in the ministry that they do. The entire radio spot kept playing up the word "we" to refer to the radio station but to make the listener aware that any and all who listen are also part of the "we". Because our culture is driven by individualistic thinking, they are working to be counter-cultural in their marketing and pulling people together in their ministry.
I challenge all of us to be thinking about the ways that we approach our daily lives as being part of a community or doing things on our own. As a minister of the Gospel, my hope is that we are rooted in the Church and that parish life is the center of our community; it is where we gain strength, assurance, and purpose, and it is where we can share resources. I strive to uphold the message of being together and the value of hearing God's message to and through us when we are gathered. But I know that the world pulls us in all sorts of directions. Schools, work, family, extracurricular activities, etc. can overwhelm us and vie for being our community of choice. I believe, however, that our children and teens need to know that the Church is where they gather for strength and assurance of their identity as children of God; our parents need to know that the Church is where they gather for strength and assurance of their ministry in raising their children to know their idenitity as children of God; and all of us, children, parents and all adults, need to know that the Church is where we gather to meet Christ in our worship and that God has a plan and purpose for our lives in the Body of Christ.