Community is the first NOUN used to describe this congregation. We share some things in common with one another. We also are quite different than one another; older and younger, leaning left and right, formal and casual, traditional and contemporary, life-longers and newbies, from-here’s and come-here’s. Despite our differences and growing diversities, what we share in common with one another is our unity to be one in Christ.
We do believe. On our best days, we believe, trust, and know there is a God. We believe we know God best through Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, as Holy Spirit reveals God to us in Scripture and in relationships. We also doubt and struggle and question and wonder. Our beliefs are not full and perfect, flawless and sufficient. We have doubts. Thankfully, it was never about our belief anyway. It is Christ’s faith, Christi’s faithfulness on our behalf that truly makes the difference in our lives.
Worship is a VERB, a word of action and presence. We might not have all the same feelings, thoughts, or beliefs, but we DO share the discipline and practice of coming together and worshiping God together. Following Christ is less about our beliefs, and more about our disciplines and practices, and the first, highest priority is participating in communal worship together. Sure, we set aside private time for prayer and reflection, alone time in a comfy chair or out in nature. Those are precious God moments. They do not replace our commitment to worship God together beside one another.
God’s creation didn’t stop at creation. It’s still happening. There is something about God’s creation that was created good, very good but has drifted due to the sin of humanity away from the vision and purpose of God’s beloved community. We confess we have been and still are a part of the problem. However, we come together to remember what God wants (Thy will be done) and to see again the vision of God’s creative efforts (Thy Kingdom come). Being the church means helping Kingdom come because when it does, that is the Good News for all people.
Follow Jesus of Nazareth as our model
But how? How do we help God recreate God’s beloved community? Jesus is the way to that community, the truth about that community, and the life well lived, building and enjoying that community. The more our words and actions sound and look like his, the more we being to find our true lives.
Led by the Spirit
There are many other paths we could walk. There are many other truths we could believe. As human beings, we have an inherited tradition of trusting the wrong sources and following the wrong leaders. However, when led by Holy Spirit, we find we might have just enough courage to follow Jesus’ example instead, even if all the world does not understand why we do so.
Partner with people everywhere
Jesus was radically inclusive of relationships with people his religion usually cast out or considered not worthy. In following him, we too learn to build relationships with all people everywhere, regardless of their beliefs or religion, if they are equally interested in recreating God’s beloved community of wholeness and peace.
Choose to live in peace
The Hebrew word is Shalom. We quickly translate it as peace, but it means so much more. It does mean inner peace, but it also means communal and universal peace. We cannot have the former without the latter. It also means wholeness and completeness. We look to be whole and true to ourselves, sure, the person God created us to be. But, we also seek the wholeness and completeness of God’s coming Kingdom into every corner of creation, and for every child of God. Until all children of God are whole, complete, at peace, we cannot have the fullness of individual peace.
This is why this congregation exists, what we are here to accomplish, and how we will prioritize our time, energy, and resources. We will help every person find their true selves, and help build God’s kingdom.