“There are things you do because they feel right & they may make no sense & they may make no money & it may be the real reason we are here: to love each other & to eat each other’s cooking & say it was good.”
The purpose of church? The purpose of worship? The purpose of why we gather at Bethesda? Even the purpose of life? It’s connection. It’s the connection between the bodies and souls that wander lonely in this world to each other and the connection of those bodies and souls to the divine. This is not an introvert/extrovert thing (believe it or not, I’m an introvert); this is not a social butterfly/wallflower thing or a outgoing/ anxious soul thing. This is a human thing. No matter who you are or what your personality or what gives you energy, you are hardwired into your deepest places to connect with others. You need it. God created you that way; and when we are fully, deeply, vulnerably connected to each other, we are living in ways that are most truly human… and when we’re not? When we’re insular and turned inward; when we’re living judgmentally and disconnected, we are falling so short of who God has made us to be.
A challenge for connectionIt was this most recent shooting at UCC that got me thinking more about our calling to live as connected ones. Discussions and media and we ask so many questions. Is it guns? Or mental illness? Do we need more armed citizens or classroom emergency drills? Is it the parent’s fault or his friends? So, many questions and answers bombard us from all sides. Now, let me give my caveat — this is simplistic and I am so far from knowing all the answers. But, what if… what if these young men that resort to violence (for whatever reason) were indeed connected, deeply connected to others in their lives? What if, as barrages of violence inundated him from all sides, he had others in his life that spoke words of compassion and truth and love? What if we didn’t look at this as the failings of guns or education or individuals, but as an indictment of disconnection? Sounds too easy? I suppose it might be… but it also might be one of the answers.
What if the focus of Bethesda was simply a place to become connected, a place to hear words of grace and mercy, a place where one never, ever felt alone, but knew that someone would be present? What if by the time a child was three, they could name one adult at Bethesda that loved them? What if by the time a child was eight, they could name two adults? By the time they were 12, they would name 3? By the time they graduated, five adults could be called as they transitioned to college? What if when someone lost their first job or had a new baby or was headed into surgery, there were seven people at Bethesda who would show up for them… simply because we were a community that fostered living, and loving and being together?
I don’t think that’s asking too much. Because otherwise, what’s the point? What’s the point of being a community who follows Jesus when your nearest brothers and sisters are wandering body and soul lonely in the world? Here’s my cry out to you — challenge me. Maybe I’m wrong and this isn’t an answer among answers. But, if I’m not, challenge me again to not forget—to remember we can be truly human—we can be who God created us to be; help me nurture the connections you’ve already made and to create opportunities for new ones — because that’s why we’re here, my dear friends… that’s why we’re here… to love, to live with, and to be present for each other.