Katie Snipes Lancaster
Scripture: Romans 12:10
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.
Spiritual Practice: Community
This year we discovered the in/tangible ways in which church is a community, even when we cannot gather together. I saw the way you cared for one another in tender ways, reaching out to neighbors and friends in times of need. I still see the ways you gather to worship, even if we’re not always all together—even if we’re scattered, literally across the country, a diasporic church.
We have also seen a renewed longing for community. That longing is deep, maybe even a distinct aspect of human nature. What will community look like in the weeks and months ahead? How will you commit to one another—to those you love, and to near-strangers who you do not yet know—in order to continue this joint project of being community together? There is something distinctly sacred about building a place where all belong, where all are welcome. It is a calling. It is a welling up of the spirit of God who calls us to a wide welcome table of love.
Community is an anchor. The post-covid return to community will be an emotional one. It will be a bit of a complicated dance. There may be ways in which we’re out of practice. There may be ways in which some want to return “exactly to the way it was in the before times” and others want to give up some of the “old ways.” We won’t know what it will look like until we get there. It might be perplexing. It will require deep listening, prayer, attentiveness to how we are acting and reacting, as well as responding with gratitude, hospitality, and openness. But we know this: we are called, as it says in Romans to “be devoted to one another in brotherly love” (or sisterly love? yes?).
I wonder if Christine D. Pohl’s book “Living into Community: Cultivating Practices that Sustain Us,” or something like it, might help guide us as we work to live into community in these still-covid-impacted days and into the future. I wonder what new thing you bring to community now. What surprises you about community after a year together-apart?
God, bring us together.
Bind us together with cords that cannot be broken.
Knit us together
so that we might care for one another,
dwelling in that sense of belonging
that comes from mutual love and understanding.
In Jesus’ name.