This past week, I was at an annual event that I have been attending for fifteen years. For many of us, it is a homecoming experience. It is a large event, so it is impossible to know everyone. There are many I do not recognize, but they may know someone that I know. We feel a sense of belonging and connection. We are together, united by a common denominator. True, the connection with some of the folks is indirect, but it is a connection none the less.
We all want to feel a sense of belonging. We want to be a part of the group. Even if we are only indirectly connected to the group, we still want to belong. we want to feel a part of our town, our community, or something. Our modern lives often make these connections more difficult. We live in large cities and shop at large regional centers, so there are a lot more people. Having more people means that it is less likely we will have a direct connection. Many of us commute to work, so we may work with people who live in other communities. Our working life takes up a lot of our time, so we end up having very little personal time. We often use that personal time to handle the care and keeping of ourselves and our families. Our health care providers maybe in a regional health care center, which means that they are not a part of our community. We get our hair care and other things done in the regional center. All of this leaves us feeling very disconnected to our neighbors. We don’t know them. We rarely see each other. Only a handful know what is going on with the local government. We are disconnected. We are isolated. We are lonely.
One of the things that church does is provide a community. Churches are regular gatherings of people. These regular gatherings are ere we can experience community. These gatherings are where we can feel sense of belonging and connection. This sense of belonging is a part of the experience of being church. Those of us who are a part of a church, our job is to make sure that those who are with us feel connected. We are to help everyone, those we know and those who are strangers, know that this is a place we want them to belong. This is more than welcome, this is accepting and sharing. This is connection. I was re-connected at an annual conference, I hope you find ways to connect in a more local way.