The outgrowth of a relationship with God is the connection it makes with other believers. This has been true for Christians in particular – because the shared life and ministry Jesus developed around him arose out of his obedience to God’s call and the invitation to others to ‘come be disciples.’ From early in his ministry Jesus is drawing people to him for teaching, healing, story-telling – the by-product of which is community.
After the horrible experience of the Crucifixion – where were the disciples? Sharing grief and fear within community. When Jesus appeared to them after the Resurrection – what did he find? They were gathered together ‘in one room’. When the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost what did the wind and tongues of flame encounter? A community of 120 gathered in prayer and expectation!
Community is celebrated here at Asbury – as we focus on building relationships in groups and settings small and large. There is a shared experience which happens when faithful disciples gather to sing, pray, worship, eat, serve and fellowship.
With Christ at the center of our spiritual lives, we, like the early disciples and countless believers ever since, are built up into being the Body of Christ in this place. We laugh and weep together, we serve one another and those outside the congregation together, we share in the challenges and successes of building new buildings, starting new ministries, creating new mission programs.
True faith is not lived out in isolation but within community: it is there we learn about the diversity of gifts God offers us through the Spirit and how exciting it is to know God’s grace and mercy; it is there we hear the stories of Christ’s love and compassion experienced by others; it is there we feel emboldened and encouraged to live a life of service to others; it is there we share the joy of giving God praise, and sitting around tables together eating; and it is there we carry the burdens of others and are carried when our load of life becomes too heavy.
What a joy it is when, as the Psalmist wrote, brothers and sisters dwell together in unity! What a gift it is to know the Spirit of Jesus Christ weaves together so many different threads into a beautiful tapestry of love and hope that is Asbury UMC!