This Advent, are you longing to be deeply rooted in community? In the last few weeks I have found much comfort and solace simply sharing a meal with friends around the warmth of our candle-lit table midst the long, dark days as the world seems to have lost its freaking mind. In the midst of a nation so polarized and divided, I think there is a growing hunger to be connected. In a culture suffering from deep fragmentation and ever-increasing isolation. Where we sit in front of screens instead of face to face. Where we walk down streets immersed in our own worlds, headphones in, never having to engage another soul. We travel in isolation cells on wheels from garage to work and then back to garage again. So many of us separated from extended family and support. So many of us experiencing the deep freeze of Seattle where friends are hard to find and neighbors are unknown. And so we wait. Hoping. Longing. Aching for more.
I don’t know about you, but often times I can stay ahead of the pursuing loneliness, staying busy and working hard, keeping up with the never-ending demands and checklists of life. But it catches up, doesn’t it? When you are least aware. When you have had a bad day and you feel like all the wind’s been knocked out of you. When you stop long enough to want to let down your hair and can’t think of someone you can shake it with. When the idyllic scenes of the Christmas season elude you, when broken families and dreams only bring heartbreak. This is when the bone-chilling ache of loneliness sets in.
We all are wired for connection. We need it to live. And we certainly need it to thrive. And I believe that our connection to community is absolutley imperative if we are to live full, meaningful lives. This is why I believe in the church. Not in the institution really or even in the current models that people seem to be leaving by the droves. No, I believe in the church in the context of the everyday and the local, the organic and the ordinary. In our neighborhoods and local communities. Where we can share life together as followers of Jesus embodying love in the practicalities of our everyday lives.
This is why I sold my home two years ago to move to the neighborhood in which I work and worship so that I could fully immerse myself in the renewal of my community. This is why we share our house and live in proximity to other families in our faith community. This is why I am committed to fostering relationship with my neighbors, the city, the school district, and the low-income and immigrant families I work with. I believe in the goodness of community. Even more, I believe in the unrealized hope and potential of people of faith living in community. This is why I am so committed to the reformation of the church, to new creativity and experimentation as we seek to be people of peace and love.
And finally, this is why I am inviting you to join us as we begin a new journey and a new adventure, to discover what it means to more fully live into being a rooted community embodying the compassion of Jesus in the neighborhoods we live in.
So this advent, what are you waiting for, hoping for, longing for? If you are longing for community, I hope you will join us around a meal. In the midst of these dark days of December, what is the light you seek? If you are longing to live into a whole new vision of what the church might look like today, I hope you will explore with us as we set out on a whole new adventure. We wait with deep longing and with stubborn hope.