2 Kings 5:1-14
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
Peace be with you!
One of my favorite songs is “Cloud of Witnesses” by Mark Schultz. The first two verses remind me of my church when I was going up. The song goes:
We watched them runnin’ down the aisles, /Children’s time, Sunday morning. /The preacher asked them who they loved, /They all smiled and started pointing to their mom, /Their dad, /The teacher from their kindergarten class; /And each and every one /Had just come from/
A cloud of witnesses /That would see them through the years /Cheer them with a smile /And pray them through the tears /A cloud of witnesses that would see them to the end, /And shower them with love that never ends /A cloud of witnesses (ChristianLyricsOnline.com 2010).
As I grew up, it was my church family who supported me through life’s challenges. I was not an object, “the girl in the electric wheelchair.” I was a special girl who just happened to need the help of a wheelchair . I swear the guys just enjoyed showing off for us girls as they lifted my electric wheelchair into the back of our youth group leader’s van. No matter where the weekly meeting was, my friends made sure I was there.
Paul’s letter the Galatians concludes with him reinforcing how important it is to live in community, to live in the new covenant, and to live by the Spirit. Life is about being in community with each other and God. Nothing else matters when you live according to the Spirit, because the community becomes your family, shelter, and protection. The community keeps you going when the world seems to be against you or when it is confusing you.
Living in community allows you to be in a relationship with the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We worship, pray to, lament and rejoice with God as a community. I just found a church home in Florida, a place where I enjoy going – not just because the pastor gives awesome sermons (although he does), but because the community has welcomed me into their fold. During announcements one Saturday night, I asked if someone could pick me up because my stepdad was going away for two months. Ron and Kathy volunteered to pick me up for church, help me get dinner, and take me home. Over the last four weeks, I have been adopted into their dinner group at Angelo’s. We share what we did the last week and what we have planned for the next week. It feels good to belong to a group again.
Community gives us a feeling of belonging. The members of a community take care of each other by providing support through a difficult time, lending a hand when someone needs help, and offering items someone may need. My favorite part of my church is its outreach programs – pet food for those who cannot afford to feed their furry friends, a soup kitchen, and a food pantry. These ministries are not hidden either. Whatever is donated on the weekend is rolled to the altar during the offering. The needs of others are constantly visible in my church.
Paul reminds the Galatians of the new covenant God the Father created with his children through Jesus Christ. Under the new covenant, God does not care if you are circumcised or uncircumcised, free or slave, male or female, or Jew or Gentile. All are welcomed to be in a relationship with God the Father under the new covenant. Living under the new covenant restores our relationship with God, because Jesus Christ makes it possible for everyone to know God and to enter heaven. Jesus restores us to eternal life.
Paul also emphasizes the importance of living according to the Spirit by loving one another. The Spirit leads us to live according to God’s will. Living according to the Spirit allows us to live the way God planned for us all along.
The members at my church are an incredible cloud of witnesses. During the prayers, we pray for everyone. We lament as a community when someone dies, is sick, or is going through a difficult time. I had a staph infection a few weeks ago and was not able to go to worship. Kathy checked in on me every few days to see how I was doing. We rejoice when someone has good news. We give weekly birthday and anniversary blessings to individuals and couples. It is a community that lives solely according to the Holy Spirit.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for giving us communities to be a part of and to support us. Help us to live under the new covenant according to the Spirit in our daily lives. Guide us to love one another by caring for others and respecting each other. Remind us to break down divisions by welcoming everyone into our community. Thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to lead us in our daily lives. Amen.
Thanks to the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the comment covenant.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
1. How do you live in community with others?
2. How do you live by the new covenant?
3. How do you live according to the Spirit?