Friday, January 18, 2013

Welcome to a Natural Community

Our texts for this week are drawn from 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 and Luke 4:14-21 (though I would encourage reading Luke 4:14-30 to get the fuller picture of our gospel story).  You can read these here.

I have been really grappling the last couple of days with figuring out a way to blog about what is happening at our church this week as we host 25 guests currently experiencing homelessness through the Arundel House of Hope's Winter Relief Program.  I can't think of anything that weaves in better with Paul's words about our unity in the spirit amidst our diversity, and with Jesus' prophetic first words among his community in the local synagogue about the present mission of justice, grace, and hope he was anointed by God's Spirit to fulfill.

I have had the honor of spending two evenings with our guests this week, and look forward to seeing them again tonight and on Sunday as we continue building community together.  And I think what has surprised me most this week is how much community has not had to be built in many cases--it has just happened naturally.  I can only speak for myself, of course, but I have been amazed and almost overwhelmed by how completely organic it feels to have these guests among us--how much they do not feel like guests to me, but like a natural part of our community.  We all belong together! Sitting around the tables at dinner, like at any church potluck, with guests offering to take the plates of others around the table when all are done.  Watching movies together, cracking jokes.  Someone mentioning that a couple of toilets have clogged, and one of the guests becoming Mr. Plumber, going back and forth between upstairs and downstairs with the plunger.  Another guest taking up the vacuum and probably gave the upstairs carpet as thorough of a cleaning as it has seen in a while.  Here is the miracle of hospitality:  in the presence of God's Spirit, it is not just a matter of "us" serving "them"; it is truly all of us serving, together, side by side.

I remember, when in the interview process with Broadneck, asking the search committee, "Why me?  Why do you want me to come be your pastor?"  The response I got was one of the more remarkable ones I have heard:  "We just feel like you are meant to journey for this season with us, and us for this season with you." It made me want even more to be part of this community--a community where we serve alongside one another, live alongside of one another, journey alongside of one another with equity and companionship and grace. That is how I feel about our Winter Relief guests now--that for this brief season, this week where our lives overlap, we are meant to journey together.  And we are doing it!  I am constantly hearing the words of the apostle Paul, reminding us of God's Spirit manifested in each of us for the common good, and the amazing prophetic hope proclaimed by Jesus:  that TODAY, this day, the promises of the ancient prophets, the promises of God, are being fulfilled among us.  Things are happening TODAY at Broadneck as God's Spirit moves in us and in our guests, making us one; and I could not be more grateful.

1 comment:

Diane Foutz said...

In my family's moving from community to community, often the hardest part was finding a church family. One church might be overwhelmed by a large, rowdy bunch of Foutz kids. Another was so big we felt lost in the crowd. Finding the right mix of preaching, singing, and a children's ministry to help with my children was important but the community of believers was the final piece. My children have grown because of the influence of godly men and women who were in the right place at the right time. Others were there with encouraging words to help me grow as a follower of Christ.
What your church is doing is a powerful witness but it will also change you as you grow in God's love. By being honest,transparent and willing to listen to those around you we all can share the transforming power of Christ's love. I am praying for you all. I wished I could have expressed my joy that my son and his family had found a church family when I was visiting.