Musings, On The Beloved Community: January 17, 2022
Hopefully, for you, as it has become for me, Sackville United Church is your ‘beloved community’. I was first introduced to the concept of beloved community in a book by Raymond Brown, The Community of the Beloved Disciple: The Life, Loves and Hates of an Individual Church in New Testament Times. And later, this idea was expanded in my reading of the work of Martin Luther King Jr. who wrote these words:
Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.
It seemed appropriate this morning, on Martin Luther Kings Jr. Day, the anniversary of his birth, that we remind ourselves of King’s legacy – to reflect a bit on what it is to hold each other in love that comes from God – to remind ourselves that because God loves, we love. To affirm again, that when we love, we know God.
Loving and being beloved seems to have become even more challenging and necessary. The world around us has become ever more polarized and subject to division. How does a loving beloved community live in these times without being caught up in the polarity or the dualistic thinking of in or out, right or wrong, vaccinated or unvaccinated? It’s everywhere. The answer I believe, begins with prayer and love.
Fr. Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest from New Mexico has helped me and many others begin to understand the central role of contemplative prayer as the root practice of the beloved community. He reminds us that contemplative prayer is not something we do, try to achieve. Prayer is not about saying the right things to win God’s favour or the things necessary for access to heaven, but rather, contemplative prayer simply holds us in the moment—the now—and it happens to us. To pray is to be drawn into the presence of God and in that divine presence we are received into divine love.
The beloved community welcomes that rather uncomfortable liminal space that seeks a third way. The beloved community is one that stands in the tension and invites a practice of love that serves the good of all to the best of its ability. Such loving is not always easy. It comes with cost and sometimes controversy. And yet, we choose to embrace God’s love as best we can because God’s love is what holds the beloved community to its wider purpose—loving one another along with creation itself.
So beloved, let us love one another. For love comes from God. Whoever loves, loves God and God is in that one. And again, as Dr, King said and lived so boldly,
I believe that we can transform dark yesterdays of injustice into bright tomorrows of justice and humanity.
Today I have been working from home: 4 meetings this morning, two this afternoon and another this evening as a fulfil the role of Pastoral Charge Supervisor for Region 14 with Trinity St. Stephen United Church.
On Tuesday morning I will gather with the Lectionary Study Group at 10:30AM. If you’d like to take part here is the link. All are welcome. Here also is the link to the lectionary text for this coming Sunday that we will ponder.
And on Wednesday I’ll be zooming around some more… attending meetings in the afternoon and again in the evening as I gather first with the Virtual Community Dinner Group at 5:30PM (link) and then with the Sackville United Church Executive for their regular business meeting at 6:30PM.
Thursday will be a desk day working on the liturgy and reflection for Sunday, pausing at 3PM to host the Broadview Discussion Group (link).
Friday and Saturday will be days off and on Sunday I hope to have something meaningful to share as we gather in community via Facebook Live at 11AM.