Friday, September 11, 2015

On Becoming: Community

So if someone had told me 14 years ago that I would be a pastor, I would have laughed. Loudly. And obnoxiously. Not because I took issue with pastors, really. I never imagined myself to be someone spiritual, or even remotely religious (from a traditional, cultural sense). It just wasn't part of me.

Until 2001. Then everything went a bit haywire. That's what happened when my life intersected with a wonderful group of people, who happened to be Christians. You see, the people I met weren't anything like the Christians I saw on TV, or the faded memories from my family's short forays into church. They were normal. For the most part. And even when they were perhaps just a little weird (according to me anyway), they were totally okay with being weird. That's when I first realized that authenticity is really important to me. So there I was with normal, weird and probably a variety of other types, in a small room at a United Methodist Church. And it felt OK. That's when I began to learn about God, mostly by watching them. I wasn't raised in church, so much of what they said sounded foreign. But they helped me along the way. Sounds like community, right? It was great, and messy, and frustrating, and so very real.

That community led me to experience life-giving hope in God, and in myself. In my new role as a Mom, and my disconcerting role as Wife. That community walked with me, laughed with me, and cried with me. They stayed with me when my marriage fell apart, and they celebrated with me when my marriage was restored a year later. They played with my kids. They watched my kids. They were in my LIFE. That is community.

Lives intersecting with lives amidst the amazing grace of God that holds us all together in Christ.

We need each other. We just do. On good days, on bad days, on boring days, or frantic days, we need each other. The words of Genesis echo in my heart as I hear God say, "It is not good for man to be alone."  That wasn't just about marriage.  That was about doing life together with another human being. We somehow are shaped by being with one another--being with one another is risky, because sometimes it hurts, sometimes we argue, we bicker, we laugh, we cry, we fall apart, we yell, and we live.  Being with one another might require honesty, courage, risk and vulnerability. Being with one another might mean that we fail each other, or hurt each other. Being with another is sacred when all the barriers, the masks and the hurt egos fall aside, and we look one another in the heart with a desire to listen, learn and love. Being with another may trigger wounds from our past, and that too reveals our need for grace and healing and hope.

Community is sacred. When we choose to be with one another, in spite of our fears, God's ever-present grace joins us together in a mysterious, wonderful connection where life and hope dwells. Community helps us become.

I didn't think I'd be a pastor. But I am.

What is at work in your community that is helping you become?  If you don't have a community, what steps could you take to find it? It's risky, I know. But it's worth it.