I have been thinking about the ways that God uses community to help us grow as Christians. Increasingly, I am grateful to be a part of a religious community like Grace church.
Being in community with others means that we get to practice being Christians. When difficulties in our own lives arise, we have people who are committed to helping us through them. When we see others in pain, we are called to extend a helping hand to them. It is powerful in both cases.
Nguyen and I have been worried about a congregant at Grace who is battling major health issues. We called his friend last week and invited them to the Wednesday evening Eucharist. They came. When the priest brought communion to my friend in the pew, I was overcome with joy because I felt so sure that he is no longer alone in this struggle. Not only is he bound to Christ with this rite, but all of us are bound together through it. Together, we face his challenges, losses, fears. Together we support him through this painful time.
During Advent, I have been struggling some painful issues of my own. Things that I wanted to hide and keep secret. But gently, God offered me a way to open them up and expose them to the light. He gave me a way out. He gave me a spiritual friend. A Godparent. The sacraments of communion and confession. The words of Thomas A Kempis. A community of people who love me, and whom I love. God gave me all these things to remind me that I never have to struggle alone with my sins and fears.
2 years ago I sat in the Rector of Grace Church's office and told him all the things I disliked about his church. I told him that I was unhappy, but that God was calling me to stay. I confessed that I was none too pleased about it, but that I would stick it out as long as I felt God was asking me to be there.
Yesterday I called him to tell him how grateful I am to be a part of Grace Church's community. Miracles are happening. Love is abounding. Blessings are everywhere. I thanked him for his leadership and his willingness to let the Holy Spirit be in charge.
Miracles are happening.
Thanks be to God.