“Where are you from?” This is a seemingly easy question for me to answer. I grew up and lived in the same house from age three until college. My mom still lives there, my dad’s tools hang in his workshop, and a “GI Joe Footlocker” full of old ribbons gathers dust in the attic. Yet, this is no longer my home. We have lived on six streets, owned three homes, and homesteaded in two parsonages and one apartment.
How Lewis and Caleb will answer the question “where are you from?” Will Lewis speak of playing sports as racial minority at Rose Park Middle School in Nashville? Will Caleb speak of the Tullahoma Band? What will hold their identities?
When asked: “where are you from?” I hope they say “we come from the people of the United Methodist Church”. We come from our baptism at Winchester First and New Chapel. We come from the Sunday School, VBS, Confirmation, Mission trips, nurseries, kitchens, gyms, gardens, sardines, monkey bars, and other unnamed witnesses who stood with us as we professed our faith at Hillcrest and Tullahoma First. We come from Beersheba, Cedar Crest, Warmth in Winter and Mountain Top. We come from friendships made at Springfield First’s Mother’s Day Out and cemented with sleepovers even last week. May we know we do not come so much from a place but from a people. We belong more to a movement than a town. Our ultimate identities are woven by the community who follows Christ.
Sunday, a few carloads of friends from our last church brought my boys from Beersheba to our 11am worship service. Saturday, Lewis, Caleb and a few others shared a last-minute room at Hillcrest’s Family Retreat. Over Sunday lunch I was reminded of the goodness of God’s people and the honor of being someone’s pastor. In visiting with old friends my mind turned to the baptismal promise we made with Abigail and her family that morning. In baptism, we pledge to God, each baptized person, each professing member, and each other to “live according to the example of Christ” and to “surround each person with a community of love and forgiveness that they might grow in their trust in God and be found faithful in their service of others”. This sort of rooted-ness, this belonging-ness, this community stands against the judging, graceless, isolating, un-forgiving aloneness pedaled by the world. May we belong to a community of love and forgiveness by following the example of Jesus Christ.
Sunday I will preach about how Zacchaeus found belonging-ness in Christ. Join us as our series on Belonging explores Luke 19:1-10.
Grace and Peace