by Laura Schwarcz on October 10, 2023
December 05, 2023
With over eight billion people in the world, it sure doesn't feel lonely. People are everywhere! And yes, we are feeling this particularly in Austin right now! Even with all these people everywhere, it can be easy sometimes to get so wrapped up in our own lives that we don't take time to really get to know others. We might mingle at church, catch up in the break room at work, or stop to chat in HEB, but that doesn't mean we have authentic community. As social creatures, we are not meant to live in isolation; God calls us to thrive in relationship with others. We're our best selves when we're experiencing life's highs and lows with other people. Everyone - no matter your relationship status or living situation - needs community that, rather than feeling forced or dull, overflows with joy and hope.In one of his Sermons on the Parables, Howard Thurman shared this reflection:
A sheep was enjoying the grass... then when he started feeling chilly... he realized that he had been cold for some time. But, the grass was good. Then he looked around, and he discovered he was alone. That everybody had gone. That is, that all the sheep had gone. And he began crying aloud. And then the shepherd, who had many sheep, missed him when he got back to the fold, and he left his ninety and nine ... to try to find this sheep that was lost. And Jesus said, "God is like that."
Nothing heavy and theological about that. Very little that is dogmatic, technically, about it. Just that here is a shepherd who loves his sheep, and one of the sheep is doing the most natural thing in the world - and that is to eat the grass - did it with such enthusiasm and over a time interval of such duration that he didn't know when the shepherd called, and he was lost.
And why was he lost? He was lost because he was out of touch...with the group that sustained him, the group that fed him, that gave him a sense that he counted. That's all. And as soon as he was out there alone, he said, "I'm just here by myself. Nothing but me in all of this? And I want to feel that I count with the others." There's a certain warmth in that. There's a certain something that is creative and redemptive about the sense of community, about the fellowship.
Now, Jesus says that God is like the shepherd, seeking always to find those who are out of community with their fellows, and... when they have found their community with their fellows, then all the world seems to fit back into place, and life takes on a new meaning.
At Saint John's, we value being in community with one another as we invite the Spirit to guide us in joy and hope. One opportunity to connect is the JOY group, a Senior Adult weekly ministry. After retirement or moving to be near grandkids, it can be easy for Senior Adults to become isolated. However, we know from reading Psalm 133:1 that living in community with one another allows us to thrive in our own individual walk of life. I invite those at Saint John's who are 55+ or those with parents who are looking for connection to join our JOY group this fall. It is a great opportunity to connect and grow in joy and hope in community.
If you would like to know more about our Senior Adult group, please click here and get on our JOY email list. I look forward to connecting with you!
Grace and Peace,
Associate Director, Faith Development