upper room daily devotions

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

powerful community, strong communion

This is the article that I wrote for my church's January 2007 newsletter. This year our church's theme is "Beloved Community," and we will spend the whole year exploring King's hope for the world and how one local congregation might better embody the beloved community. In order to step into this path of exploration, we have started asking, "What is community?" It is my hope that we will learn that the power of our community arises out of the strength of our communion.

"As we close the book on 2006 and move into 2007, I wonder what the new year will bring. It is my deepest hope for WPUMC that we find new and meaningful ways for us to grow closer to one another and closer with our God. Many of you have told me about your desires for stronger community and how you hold hope that this place might offer it to you. I share your hope and invite you to walk with me through this year on a journey - an exploration - into community and sharing.

I have heard you ask for more community - stronger community. As we continue to explore the power of the beloved community, we will begin with the question, 'What is community?' This question will be addressed in our all-church retreat in January and we will talk about it at our first church council meeting of the year. The idea of community will resurface throughout the year, and I invite you to speak with me about your ideas for strengthening our community for the building of the beloved community.

In the church we refer to the sacrament of Eucharist as 'communion.' In the sharing of the bread and wine, we enter into God's holy mystery, seeking union with God and with one another. The power of the church doesn't reside in our beliefs (which we could hold separate from church); our power arises from the strength of our community, our communion - our shared life with one another and with God. Community is fundamental to our health. Communion is fundamental to our identity. Without it we are an assembly of individuals with individual aspirations. With it we are a body that is as diverse as the number of people who are part of our community. When our communion is strong, we are able to advocate for others, include others without fear, and move into the faithful work into which we are called as the body of Christ. When our communion is strong, our community is powerful.

I wish you a Happy New Year! And I also hope that you allow yourselves gentle time to rest from the busy-ness of Christmas. Restoration of our souls - of our "selfs" - is necessary in a healthy community. So, I invite us all to take care and to enter the new year expectant of the mysteries that await us as the year unfolds."

The United Methodist Church's understanding of Holy Communion can be found in "This Holy Mystery."
The King Center contains more about the Beloved Community.

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