“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)