Dear Church Family,
Our scripture for today is one of the most beautiful passages found in the Bible:

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” —1 John 4: 7-11

The idea of being a community has been on my mind a great deal this week. We have author and King Speaker Palmer Chinchen with us this Sunday (at 10am and 4pm) to talk more about his wonderful book on community. Last night I heard a story on the radio of a man who left his life in Manhattan to return to tiny Paris, Missouri, to care for his mother. In the story the interviewer clearly could not believe that the man would experience anything but loss out of this move. But the man corrected her and he said he had found community in that place and he was grateful to see the way community had been there for his mother, especially, he said, from her church. A final community piece from this week was when a church member passed along a speech given by Robert Lupton, founding member of Christian Community Development Association. In it he weighs the purpose and goal of community in the face of the attractive pull of causes:

“Causes stir passion, often in defense of vulnerable victims…A cause has winners and losers, both claiming to occupy the high ground. Each side creates disparaging labels for the other, painting their opponent as heartless, immoral, or ignorant. Compromise feels like defeat, leaving both sides frustrated and dissatisfied.

Community is very different…[It] has a different goal. Community is about shalom.  Community is about mutual understanding, about listening, about allowing one’s self to be changed by the perspectives of others. Community is about valuing others, especially those who are vulnerable. Community is about the strong subordinating their strength to give room for the less-secure to emerge. Community succeeds when everyone wins.”

I remember the New Testament writer’s call to love one another, not because it is easy but because that is one of the only way others will know that we love God: through the way we live with one another. While causes are important and causes can even change injustice into justice, it seems like our neighbors are also terribly thirsty for community. And where else in this world are they going to find that unless they find it in the church?

Prayer: God, you are love and you call us to love one another. Help me be more like you today. Help me love even when I see divisions. Help me love even when it is hard. For I want to show my love for you in this world. Amen.

Christ’s Peace be with you all,