A few words about community

 The following thoughts were shared at the “Chew and Chat” held at the corners of Port Tobacco Road and Tayloe Neck Road, Nanjemoy, MD on July 31st, 2007.

I’m honored to be here and share a few thoughts with you today. We’re here to affirm and celebrate the value of community, to make it known that all of us understand the truth embodied in a certain passage of scripture. Paul the Apostle says in one place, that when one member suffers, all suffer together, and when one rejoices, all rejoice together. Just as this is organically true with a physical body, I’m here to tell you that for all of us this is not just something to think about, it is a fact.

Sometimes we don’t know why we suffer. We might have plenty of food, a safe place to sleep, good family, a well paying job, and we might feel like just so long as we keep these things, no matter what happens with anyone else, we’ll be fine. And we might even work to see to it that we keep what we have even if it means someone else doing without; but the result, the spiritual and dynamic fact is, that to the extent we contribute to someone else’s suffering, we increase our own. The Bible tells us that Jesus came with good news for the poor, but that good news benefits rich and poor alike, because all suffer together to the extent that any of us suffer.

Because of this inescapable fact, it is in the interest of each one of us —essential for our well-being and happiness, not just in a spiritual way but in every way, to see to the good of all of us, and that’s why we’re here, to build community, to find out, if we can, where someone is suffering and where someone is rejoicing, so we can share in those hurts, lessen them if we can, and share in those joys and increase them if we can.

I’m here because God has been good to me, and given me benefits in my life that I didn’t deserve, rescued me from the ways I imposed pain upon myself. God gave me my life back after I had wasted it, and so I have nothing to do but to offer it back to him again and again. I’ve found that as I do that he keeps finding ways to bless me, but also keeps showing me how closely bound up my life is with the lives of thosearound me. I can’t do without you, and you can’t do without me; we’re stuck with each other, and that’s one of those things that God has said is good.

Here is what I believe about how much we belong together:

I am deeply connected with all of humanity, and with every person in particular.

So long as anyone remains unloved, I am lonely.

So long as anyone remains hungry, I am not satisfied.

So long as anyone remains in need, I am poor.

So long as anyone remains imprisoned, I am not free.

So long as anyone remains in danger, I am not safe.

So long as anyone suffers from illness, I am not well.

But when my heart aches for the unloved, Christ is with me.

And whoever spends themselves on behalf of the hungry, Christ is with them.

And for those who dare to see the needs of others, Christ is their light.

And for the prisoner, Christ is the open door.

And for the fearless warrior for peace, Christ is the shield.

And to those who attend to the wounds and sickness of this world,

Christ, the Great Physician, lends his skill, his care and compassion. 

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