Becoming New in Community

Just this past week, National Public Radio (NPR) reported that British Prime Minister Theresa May has appointed a Minister of Loneliness for the United Kingdom. Apparently, loneliness in the United Kingdom has reached a critical level with more than 9 million people in a recent study claiming that they “always or often feel lonely.” It seems somewhat ridiculous that in today’s global society in which we are more connected than ever through social media and the internet, the experience of loneliness has reached such critical levels. Yet, the significant rise in feelings of loneliness and anxiety is real, not just in the United Kingdom, but here in the United States as well. I see evidence of this crisis of loneliness nearly each and every day from the increased number of conversations I have with people who are feeling disconnected and isolated to the current opioid crisis to the deadly gun violence that is wreaking havoc in our nation’s schools and communities. For a multitude of reasons, people are feeling alone and, in the extreme, loneliness becomes deadly. We Christians have a powerful gift to offer the world in the midst of such a crisis. We are, by the power of the Spirit, a community grounded in Christ’s death and resurrection, a death and resurrection that overcomes the isolation of our human sin and brokenness and joins us together with all of God’s creation—past, present, and future—in a cosmic community marked by love, reconciliation, and belonging. Because of Christ’s death on the cross and rising from the grave, we are no longer alone. We have been joined together with Christ’s own self in the community of the Triune God, a community that takes on flesh and blood in the very real relationships we share with one another—in our churches, in our schools, in our workplaces, in our communities. As we now belong to Christ, so too we now belong to one another—regardless of language or race, regardless of political affiliation or socio-economic status, regardless of gender or creed. Through Christ’s death and resurrection, all creation has been brought into a new community one with another. Our mission as Christ’s church in the world is to bear witness to this new community in the relationships we share with one another. The early Christian church described by Luke in the New Testament Book of Acts lived out this new community in powerful ways. Having heard the good news of Christ’s death and resurrection, they were baptized and then lived together in community with one another, worshiping together, breaking bread together, sharing with one another, caring for one another, praying for one another. In some sense, Luke’s description of this early Christian community seems almost too good to be true, but it is the type of community for which Christ’s death and resurrection frees us to be. It is the type of community in which all are valued and have a place at God’s table. It is the type of community in which no one is excluded and room is made for everyone. As you read through this new edition of The Eagle, you will find one example after another of how we are living together as a Christ-centered community here at St. John’s. We are Christ’s community as we care for one another through Stephen Ministry and sharing communion with our homebound disciples. We are Christ’s community as we share the love of Jesus with the children and youth of St. John’s in real and powerful ways. We are Christ’s community as we reach out to the families at Harvard Park and Dubois Elementary School and as we grow relationships with those right in our own neighborhood. We are Christ’s community as we share our gifts of time, talents, and treasure and as we improve our building to become more hospitable to others. We are Christ’s community as we worship, gathering together around Word and Sacrament, to confess our need of forgiveness and to receive again and again the gifts of God’s grace. In these and so many other ways, we are becoming new in community, a community made possible only through Christ’s death and resurrection. Wherever you are experiencing loneliness or anxiety in your life, I invite you to come. Come and be part of Christ’s new community here at St. John’s! Through Christ’s death and resurrection, there is a place for you! In Christ +