Wednesday, April 9, 2014

     

The Blessing of Community                                  

 

Luke 22:54-62              
 
This past week, SFTS Welcome - a student group working for the inclusion of all people in the life of the church and the world - hosted a conversation with Rev. Dr. Jane Spahr and Rev. Ray Bagnuolo from the ministry That All May Freely Serve. Janie and Ray are good friends of mine; we have traveled many miles together; and we have heard each other speak often. But as Janie and Ray spoke in conversation with students, I heard something from them, as if for the first time. At several points they said something like this to us: "Don't let yourself get isolated, particularly when things get tough. Don't try and do this on your own. Find your community." And what followed was a conversation about finding and living in pastoral, prophetic community. 

 

As we stand on the threshold of Holy Week, and as those words echo within me, I see this, as if for the first time: In the Holy Week narrative, when folks are isolated and alone, things seem to go most badly awry - folks seem to suffer the deepest pain. In the scripture for today, when Peter is on his own and feels like his back is against the wall, he denies Christ. Judas, separated from the other Eleven, loses himself in betrayal. In Gethsemane, Jesus experiences the deep agony of isolation, and on the cross he cries out that he is forsaken. And the Eleven - and nearly everyone else - flee and scatter into the darkness in their deepest fear and pain.

 

By contrast, the fleeting glimpses of hope in Holy Week come in community. There is the community of the last supper. In the gospel of John, there is the shared experience of footwashing. In the synoptic gospels, there is shared bread, a shared cup, and a shared call to serve. Even in the flight from the cross, there is the huddled community of the women who stay (joined, in the Gospel of John, by the beloved disciple) - they are there at the cross, then dressing the body, then first back at the tomb. And after crucifixion, the followers of Jesus seem to stumble back to find each other - perhaps because it is all they know to do.

 

As we enter this Holy Week narrative ourselves - together - here are a few questions:

 

Where are you feeling isolated right now?

 

Where do you most need community?

 

What has been one moment of deep community that you have experienced, and what was that experience like for you?

 

As we move into Holy Week, may we experience and create the blessing of community. May we experience the community of the Christ. May we keep eyes open for hands that need holding, and may we reach out our hand in comfort and in hope.

          

Rev. Scott Clark    

SFTS Chaplain and Associate Dean of Student Life