Longing for Community
With our daughter graduating high school, one son in eighth grade, the youngest not far behind, and my husband deploying to Iraq for a year-long deployment, eleven years ago, our family was relocating for the thirteenth time and desperate to find a caring church community.
What did that mean for us?
Carrying the heavy baggage of transient military lives, we were weary from packing our family and our hearts from place to place every two to three years. We were thirsty and hungry for a place to call home; our souls were longing for:
- A place of understanding – believing, studying, following and growing in God’s Word together
- A place of worshiping – joining in worship with fellow believers
- A place of belonging – knowing others and being known
- A place for connecting – finding where we fit
- A place for giving – pouring our time, talents and resources into the Body of Christ
- A place for ministering – touching others’ lives in tangible ways with the love of Christ
Having spent the majority of our lives called to military chapels, church community was a temporary place. Jumping into new ministry opportunities was necessarily quick, intense, and short. We literally just started to form and feel a sense of place – understanding, worshiping, belonging, connecting, giving and ministering – and it was time to leave – again!
Stepping into church communities may not entail such a frequent rotation of doors. But, from whatever vantage point that we each initially cross our church threshold, we likely carry a sense of longing for a place.
What is Community?
The definition of community finds its focal point in the word common. Seeking a common place for our hearts, minds, and souls is central to our relationship with God and each other. God’s love is the solace of our souls; it is the pivotal place of our existence in Christ. Once washed and made new by the forgiving love of Christ, understanding our broken poverty of spirit without His saving love, accepting His forgiveness and walking in the newness of His forever-love, we are called “to love the Lord, our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves” (Luke 10:27, ESV).
Love is our common place and is the opening hinge into God’s community of believers wherever we go. Our sense of community is inherent to our sense of place – tethered always to God’s love and to each other. When we know Him and learn to love and know each other through that tether to His heart, we know the familiar places my family and I longed for.
Understanding through God’s Word, conveyed truthfully, authentically, faithfully, regularly in settings that feed every age and every heart and that challenge us to live and share His truth.
Worshiping in ways that meet the needs of each person – through new and familiar songs, voices, instruments, ensembles, praises, sadness of our souls, shouts of joy, celebrations of our Savior – all lifting pure worship to the glory of God.
Belonging to the Body of Christ so that we know the faces, expressions, needs, tears, smiles, children, grandchildren, elders, workers, names, and stories of our church family. Being known in our greatest joys and our deepest, darkest needs – being loved no matter what!
Connecting in whatever ways possible – as families, singles, couples, children, students, musicians, women, men, old, young – across the beautiful spectrum of our corporate family. Finding places to fit and connect keeps us longing to return home. Shared history, puzzle-pieced experiences and events, ministries and missions merge our need to belong with an equally meaningful urge to connect.
Giving is inherent to our Christian heritage. We give of our resources, goods and finances, even as our hearts swell at opportunities to invest our time and talents. As we are gifted, so we long for places to humbly and gratefully give back. Gifts grow exponentially as we combine resources and then witness our church community thrive – the living Body of Christ.
Ministering calls us to places inside and outside the walls of our church home. As we meet the needs of our hearts, minds and souls within the safe haven of church community, we are called to be a community reaching outside to hurting hearts, misfortunate minds and suffering souls – to love our neighbors as ourselves!
Church community (and the NEPC Music community) moves on the hinges of God’s love and compels us to beautiful places of understanding, worshiping, belonging, connecting, giving and ministering. Prayerfully, may it be that we each assuredly find our places within God’s loving community and then swing the doors wide open to share His love!
Maria Currey, Assistant Director of Music
Check out the songs we’ll be singing in Contemporary Worship (11:15am) this week: