The Benefit of Community
For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
Matthew 18:20, NRSV
As Christians, we are designed to be in community with one another. We cannot always be strong and steadfast in our faith: part of our call to be in community is that we are able to be there for each other in times of weakness. I think about this when, in a Sunday morning service, we stand together and say the Nicene Creed. The Nicene Creed is a concise statement of what we believe as Christians about the nature of God within the story of our faith. The creed summarizes the details of what we believe about each part of the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost.
It is important for me that we say the creed together as a community. A friend, who is a faithful Episcopalian, once said to me, “You don’t really believe all that stuff you say in the creed, do you?” I answered quickly, “Yes, I do.” And then I had to pause and think about it. My answer was truthful, but some days I have doubts. If I’m honest, some days I have questions and some days my faith falters. That is where the importance of community comes in–a community that declares what we believe about God together. On a day when my faith is struggling, the person I stand with can be strong for me. On a day when the person I stand next to is having doubts or struggling with his/her faith, I can stand next to him/her and be strong for him/her. As we stand together, we lift up one another. We do not have to be together physically, but we are always together by God’s Spirit as we name our beliefs and continue to lift one another when we need a boost in our faith. When we gather together in Jesus' name, whether it is virtual or physical, He is there among us by His Spirit, strengthening us to help “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2) through our times of weakness.
A Prayer of St. Chrysostom
Almighty God, who hast given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplication unto thee; and hast promised through thy well-beloved Son that when two or three are gathered together in his Name thou wilt be in the midst of them: Fulfill now, O Lord, our desires and petitions of thy servants as may be best for us; granting us in this world knowledge of thy truth, and in the world to come life everlasting. Amen.
The Book of Common Prayer, page 59