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It seemed like just another Tuesday as I traveled from a meeting southbound on Route 17 two weeks ago. It turned out to be one with a few surprises in store for me as well as every other traveler who found themselves in a four-hour delay because of a contained propane fire. Thankfully, no one was hurt, and I am grateful for the first responders who serve in these situations every day.

As I listened to my favorite stations on Pandora, I made phone calls and worked on some tasks. I also experienced something taking place in that temporary “parking lot” community.

A common challenge connected total strangers, and folks talked and visited, and even made sure others had water. While there were shouts of joy and honking of horns when traffic started to move, this experience reminded me that as people of God, we are called to be in community, build community, and foster community. At times community forms around events and in seasons which are challenging and uncomfortable.

Theologian and mystic Howard Thurman offers the following two quotes that spoke to me:

“…[A] strange necessity has been laid upon me to devote my life to the central concern that transcends the walls that divide and would achieve in literal fact what is experienced as literal truth: human life is one and all (people) are members of one another. And this insight is spiritual and it is the hard core of religious experience.”

“Community cannot for long feed on itself; it can only flourish with the coming of others from beyond, their unknown and undiscovered brothers (and sisters).”

In our United Methodist Church, and in each faith community within our covenant connection, we are yearning to experience community now more than ever. I believe that deep down inside we each want to be a part of a community where we experience the grace and peace of God.

How are you experiencing this yearning for deeper communing with others?

How are you experiencing community in surprising ways and places?

I’m open to hearing your responses to these questions, as well as to dialogue that doesn’t necessarily bring us to the same place but, rather, reminds us that as the people of God we have more in common than we have different.

The kind of community Jesus taught, spoke, and lived does require a vulnerability with one another, and there may be moments of discomfort and pain, but this is the community of which Jesus speaks when he says,

“The Kingdom of God is like…”

Thank you for being open to the churning, startling work of God in each of you. It is good to be on this journey with each of you and in community.

God’s grace and peace,
Neil Leftwich Signature

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