Beloved

Dignum et iustum est
Photo credit: Lawrence OP

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here…”

Words often heard when sitting on a hard wooden bench on a Sunday morning. The words imply a strong community. One in which all members are loved for who they are: followers of Christ. I can imagine the early missionaries saying these words to their converts – and saying them with sincerity. I can imagine the small groups of early Christians gaining comfort from one another especially during their persecution while under the Roman Empire.

But now, when I hear these words, I am surrounded by strangers – many of whom I do not see every week. The words are said by a man who has not made any connection with the people who come, week after week, to hear what he has to say about the Word of God. Yes, the modern church-goer and Christian believer is beloved: beloved by God. But beloved by the other members of the Christian community? This is not what I sense when I attend mass at a large parish church in the city. I have felt beloved by my fellow community members when attending a small parish church – but not when I do so at a large one. Instead, when the priest walks out the front doors of the church at the end of mass, believers stream out after him and then go their own way.

Modern life and the rush to get to where we are going seems to have taken away an important aspect of the way in which we view our fellow believers. I pray for a time when we can once again look at other Christians and called them “beloved” with sincerity in our hearts.

Do you feel “beloved” in your Christian community?

(This post was inspired by the prompt “beloved” posted by Lisa-Jo Baker)

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20 thoughts on “Beloved

  1. I’m a part of a relatively small Christian community in the centre of London, a very busy city indeed. But our community is small and loving and pretty much everyone knows everyone and what is going on in their lives because we make sure there is time to catch up with everyone each week, and we also show care for people in the community who are struggling or going through a difficult time

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  2. I used to feel that way. My husband and I attend a large church in our city’s urban core. God placed on my heart though that my definition of community was not his definition. I had a community of believers surrounding me and though I don’t hob nob with our pastors and their families, the church of believers is wherever we are gathered. It’s been a huge blessing and relief to recognize that and take ownership in the community for which I belong. 🙂 Hope you can find this to be true in your situation as well.

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    1. I hope too to find this in the long run. Adjusting sometimes takes a little while as well as breaking down the invisible barriers that people here seem to erect around themselves.

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  3. I imagine that you are a friend to strangers, even to those that worship beside you, with kindness and grace and sincerity in your heart. Thanks for sharing.
    Donna (More Grace)

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  4. The ‘call centre’ approach to ministry. These days in many cases, there is one man to several church communities. And, constant movement to other parishes. I really miss the days when one had the same priest who baptised you there to marry you and then baptise your grandchildren. Likewise with the doctor. Or even shopkeeper. Communities, even in cities, with continuity. Gone.

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    1. In this instance I definitely prefer the old-fashioned way. There was more of a connection between people because there was the time to chat and build relationships. And, as you say, continuity.

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  5. My daughter always refers to her husband as beloved, Colline. She’s just back from honeymoon in Venice and I thought your post might be relating to the pope’s abdication. My favourite part of church is always “the peace”.

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  6. There is a street preacher in downtown TO. I have been meaning to assist him with his mission to help the homeless. Many enjoy the comforts of attending church. This has not been my experience. I don’t think I can relate to this since it wasn’t part of my upbringing. I find a commonality in all religions and this centers on community values which I believe strongly in. A good community is one where we help each other. I have a more inter-faith based belief system which includes all religions. The concept of Karma, borrowed from Buddhism is very important to me.

    I find peace in helping others. It seems to be the only place I find it.

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