By The Reverend Chris Harris, Associate Rector
The theme of our stewardship campaign this year is Being the Body of Christ and it draws upon Saint Paul’s great metaphor for the church. As the Body of Christ, we come together in all of our diversity and distinctiveness, to form a community of such interconnectedness and kinship, that we might offer the world a glimpse of nothing less than the Kingdom of God. If that sounds like a big vision to you, it is!
As Christians know better than anyone, the biggest visions often begin with the smallest of groups. That’s particularly true for The Body of Christ because it’s a vision grounded in relationship; relationship with Jesus, and relationship with one another. And not just any relationship. As Paul writes, “ In the same way, though there are many of us, we are one body in Christ, and individually we belong to each other.” (Romans 12:5, CEB). Thus being the Body of Christ implies something far more than a friendly welcome at coffee hour or being sure to wear your name tags on Sunday at church.
After coming to work for the church, it become my job to foster that kind of belonging, and while I had built community in plenty of other contexts, I had never done it in a church. So I went to Saddleback Church, one of the largest mega-churches in Southern California founded by Rick Warren. It was a worshiping community of well more than 50,000, but was a national leader in the development of small groups. Pastor Rick had the wisdom early on to know that the way to build a really big church, was to start with really small groups. At Saddleback, it was through small groups where the magic of belonging really came to life: You studied scripture and prayed for one another, but more importantly, shared life together. Small groups at Saddleback defined belonging as ‘refrigerator rights’ – that point when you know someone well enough that when you come over to their home, you don’t think twice about helping yourself to whatever’s in the fridge!
Where have you experienced such belonging? Your family? Your college fraternity or sorority? A tight group of besties? Hopefully you have experienced such moments here as well. Perhaps in a bible study or prayer group? Maybe you’ve experienced it as you approach the altar rail at communion or in the midst of your mom’s favorite hymn? It’s an amazing, life-giving feeling it isn’t it? Belonging gives us a sense of feeling at home and at peace. We no longer have to look over our shoulders, as someone always has our back. We no longer feel alone in a crowd, because we are known and we know we are loved. If you are looking to experience a sense of belonging here, I would love to help you connect. Let’s meet and together discover how God might be calling you to belong! You can reach me via phone at (248) 644-5210, ext. 15, or firstname.lastname@example.org.