Embodying the Beloved Community - by Rev. Nancy Rosas
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the Walk to Emmaus story because it offers a vivid example of what it means to walk together and create community. In the story, the cultural practice and the shared journey encouraged hospitality among the pilgrims, and it was only when the three got together around the table, at the breaking of the bread, that they recognized that it was Jesus who was in their midst. That presence they were grieving, that hope they thought was gone, that community they thought had been broken – all was being re-membered.
Like the pilgrims to the Road to Emmaus, we are on a shared journey together. Journeying together and building community takes time and engagement. As followers of Jesus we are invited to learn what Rev.Jane Vennard in her most recent book, Fully Awake and Truly Alive, calls the practice of community within a rhythm of interdependence. The rhythm of walking our own personal journey with the divine, our communal journey, and the journey with our world and with creation.
Journeying together requires from each one of us to draw closer to each other, closer to our world, closer to creation, taking time to get to know each other and commune with each other. Journeying with others requires taking time for listening to each other, holding and honoring each other’s story and reality. Journeying together requires joining the conversation with each other and with our communities, even when we might have different understandings about life, about God, about the world, and our current reality.
Journeying as a community requires becoming hospitable, to co-create with others a space where every person’s presence, unique gifts and story, and humanness is honored and celebrated and we can practice resisting the temptation to make others be and become just like us.
Here at Washpark UCC we are a community that celebrates and encourages transformation and the movement of the Spirit in different expressions: silence, ritual, music and arts, play, words, life-giving and justice- rooted actions that proclaim that we are resurrection people. We believe that hope and new life takes place every day and it is us who make that happen for each other, for our community and for our world.
We have been and continue to build a multi-generational, multi-cultural, inclusive community and this is a beautiful gift. It is a blessing to keep learning and practicing how to embody the beloved community of God, a community where the presence and gifts of everyone are always needed and valued.
We are committed as we journey together, to make sure that our faith is lived, expressed, and celebrated in a way that involves all of our senses, and to tend to the specific needs of how each person connects with the divine mystery. We are committed to live a faith of active hope that blesses, heals and repairs the world.
We continue to journey together and create a church where each one of our children can be seen, loved, and honored for who they are and for what they are becoming. We are journeying with incredible teenagers who said they know the church is a place where they are safe, where they can find help and ask advice from others beside their parents! We are journeying with youth who have found in this church a place where they can be who they are, explore their own faith, experience a community who loves them and welcomes their questions, their doubts, who witness and affirm their lives, and who offer them the freedom to be who they need to be.
We are a welcoming community that journeys together as gay, lesbian, straight, bi-sexual, queer, beyond labels people, and our diversity is a unique gift we offer to this community. We are building a community where people living with disabilities are seen for who they are and not for who they are not or what they are not able to do. We are on the journey with our beloved elders who bless us with the gift of their presence, their love, their wisdom, their stories. And they say they are blessed by our love and care, and are thankful for providing them a space to be, to rant, to share their joys, their fears, their tears, their silences, their struggles, and their hopes.
Our own road to Emmaus brought us together, and like in the biblical story, it is around God’s table where our common hunger for life, for hope, and for wholeness meet. At this table, God is the host who already has prepared a feast to welcome all of us, and invites us to welcome one another, to recognize the divine in each other and to offer each other food for the journey.
By practicing journeying together, we continue to proclaim the resurrection story; on our shared journey, we perform the bread and the cup for each other, we continue to learn how to practice embodying the beloved community, every day, every step of the way.