Dear St. Lukers,
It’s been fun to be around campus the last few weeks – between the excitement of VBS, the meaningful youth mission trips, our Tuesday food distributions even finding joy on rainy days, and this week as our kids camps bring life all over campus. What I see all around me is our core value focus for this Sunday: Community.
It’s a time of year I also see lots of memories pop up on my social media from summers past, my own camp experiences both as a camper, summer staffer, and eventually camp director. The photos that represent so much more than a single moment, but a whole week, or even months of experiences.
But those photos also represent different communities I’ve been a part of. Camps in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Florida; communities of kids, teenagers, and all ages of adults. All of them different communities I got to lead or contribute to. All of them unique in their own ways, and yet in so many ways they all embody that same concept of bringing people together to do life together for a time, all centered around Jesus.
This week’s Scripture text invites us into an interesting picture of community as well, where people from a few different places, both geographically and socially, converge around Jesus. It’s the story of the paralytic who is brought to Jesus by his friends who, when finding the way into the house where Jesus was teaching and healing blocked by the crowd and by Pharisees, go out of their way to be sure their friend gets there. They lower him down through a hole in the roof to ensure that no matter what, Jesus could heal him.
This Sunday, Pastor Jenn and I are going to invite you to look at all the different characters in this story, and to consider all the different roles that are played in how these events play out. The friends determined to get their friend to Jesus; the crowd gathered just to see what this healer was doing; the Pharisees looking to catch him in breaking Jewish law, blocking the way for everyone else; and even the paralytic, who in that moment needed someone else to carry him.
When I think about all the communities I have been a part of – camps, churches, social groups, volunteer organizations, families – I look at different experiences and see that in each scenario, I played a different role. Sometimes I was the leader, sometimes I was the mentor, sometimes I was the worker bee, sometimes I was the pastor, sometimes I was the recipient of others’ care…and sometimes I was even the one in the way of what needed to get done.
The last year has given us a lot of new definitions about what community looks like, especially for the church. As we look at what community means as a core value for us going forward, I hope you’ll join us Sunday and open your heart to see where in this story you find yourself, and where God might be calling you to take up a new role in the great story of this community, in this moment.
Grace and peace,
Minister of Worship and Arts