Throughout the month of June,
we have centered our hearts and opened our sacred imaginations to the stories
in the Book of Acts.  We have already
heard about the burning breeze of the Spirit that infused, inspired, and
interrupted the lives of the earliest followers of Jesus.  We heard how the Spirit awoke a unity in
diversity ~ how the disciples convened a United Nations-like meeting of many languages
and could understand each other. 
This shined and shed light on how we long to be heard and seen and
understood.  Today open yourself to how
you long to find a connection in your communication.  We name the irony that we are more connected
via the computer in our pocket and purse, but still feel disconnected and
distant.  The sweet, sweet Spirit swirled,
stirred, and surged sending forth the disciples into the world.  Two weeks ago, we heard how Peter and John
saw a beloved son of God ~ looked him in the eyes ~ as a way to healing.  Yesterday, we heard on Philip put on his
running shoes to come up alongside a chariot, hopped in, and taught an
Ethiopian eunuch about the liberating love of God.  I love the question of the eunuch, “What is
to prevent me from being baptized?”  And
the answer in Philip’s heart was…nothing.  I don’t know why the church continues to find
ways to put up barriers and blockades about who participates and part-takes in
worship.  I don’t know why we feel the
need to check your baptismal certificate and make sure your beliefs are neat
and tidy ~ because our experiences and encounters in this life will always push
at the boundaries of faith.  Many have
observed that Christian has become “Americanized” adopting and adapting the
ways of commercialization and individualization that are part of the sea we
swim in culturally.  If we don’t like the
church we are in, we “shop” for another that meets our needs. 

 

What holds us together?  I encourage you to ponder prayerfully what
connects us and creates community for you. 
Years ago, it was a shared address. 
You were connected to family and neighbors who lived within walking
distance.  You rarely traveled very far.  For many, what created community, connection
to others, was your job.  You shared a
kin-ship with other pastors or factor workers or farmers or lawyers.  But eventually, we have questioned whether
meaning in our lives comes from our paycheck? 
And when our families are scattered across the globe and people are
isolated now working from home, what creates community today?  I would suggest that one thread that can
tether us together is a shared story. 
Richard Rohr talks about three stories that need to fit together like
Russian nesting dolls.  You have “my
story ~ how I see myself.  Then, there is
our” story.  This could be
the one that comes from friends or your hobby or people you enjoy hanging out
with.  Then there is the
story, the one that is larger to hold the multiplicity and multi-vocal parts of
a diverse world. 

 

This week, I want to explore
how our Core Values can help us find a shared story that connects us to each
other.  To remind you our Core Values at
the church are: 

 

Worship, Caring, Welcome,
Belonging, Justice, and Faithfulness.

 

I invite you today to write
down a definition or an example of each from a moment you shared with others.  I encourage you to think about a time worship
in community opened you to encountering the Eternal; a time you cared for and
received care from another; a moment you felt welcomed and wanted by others (who
showed the acceptance and affirmation); describe a place and space you feel
like you belong; a way you work with God for justice for siblings on the fringe
and fray; and how faithfulness is enlivened and embodied in shared study (like
Philip and the beloved Ethiopian engaged in the story yesterday).  This may take a minute.  This may take the rest of the week or even
month, and this is okay.  There is no due
date or finish line, this is an open invitation to let these words rummage and
roam around your life to find expression as you move about your days,
interacting with others.  Amen.