Many years ago, my signature at the end of my emails was the first words of Paul’s letter to the Philippians—“I thank my God every time I remember you.” I was struck by those words; of how powerful it would be if we actually greeted people with them. After some time, I learned that “I thank my God every time I remember you” was not intended to be a profound theological statement in those days. It was the typical greeting of the day. It was as if I had included “Hey Buddy!” in several years of emails…instead of the theological declaration I thought I was making. I was embarrassed. But, now, I stand by that salutation. After all, imagine how the world would be if we remembered that everyone we meet…comes from God.
As our congregation explores together what it means to be becoming a Beloved Community, it begins with the foundation that everyone comes from God. Not only the people in this congregation or in our family units or our chosen networks, but everyone, including those we disagree most vehemently with. And, we give thanks to God for them. Beloved Community is not just about being nice, but it’s actually a revolutionary statement of giving thanks for all that God has made...even when we don’t like what God has made very much.
As you enter my office you may notice a Korean wall hanging I brought home from studying abroad 15 years ago. It is a translation of Titus 3:15, “God’s grace be with all of you.” Again a common farewell found at the close of most of Paul’s letters, it has something to teach us. For what would the world look like if we greeted each other remembering that each of us comes from God…and parted reminding each other that God’s grace is among us. How might our encounters in community be different if we began and ended our time with these remembrances? How might the –isms that plague our larger culture be impacted?
During our Wednesday night worship services in Lent, ECLC speakers will be sharing a story of how someone has shown Beloved Community to them. Perhaps through service, perhaps through sacrifice, perhaps through love. I invite you to attend so that you, too, might be impacted by these stories and so that you might imagine how you have been shown Beloved Community and how you might express Beloved Community to others. Today, I invite you to reflect on this very question: Who has shown Beloved Community to you? How?
I thank my God every time I remember you…God’s grace be with you!