This morning I was participating with a church community I’ve recently met that does things in a different way than how I’ve been used to. Sometimes just a different language and a different way of showing up in the world can help liberate us. There were two activities this community did this morning that I absolutely loved.
The first activity was to take a moment after their prayer meeting, where people submit the names of those who they feel need prayers, to sit in a new prayer space. The meeting leader invited everyone to say their own names as part of this new prayer, to bring our consciousness to a deep understanding that we are also God’s beloved. It felt so amazing to sit with a community that was dedicated to God’s love first, and who were taking time to make that a priority. Not just love for others, but for ourselves. And not just the preaching of it, but space, stillness, and silence in honor of our own belovedness. God knows I need more of that.
The second activity was to read together their Community Covenant, with the intention of finding a few words or a phrase that stood out to us. The instruction in this first part of the activity was not to look for things we need to work on, but to see the special talents and gifts that we bring to the table, the things that make themselves known to us because we are drawn to them as an important way of being. And the meeting leader expressed her gratitude for those desires of our hearts and how they bless the community and the world. Again, honoring our divinity and who we are. Always starting with a firm foundation of love.
Because it’s so beautiful, I’m going to share the text of their Community Covenant:
We are an intentional, open hearted Christ-Centered covenant community that invites people into living authentic and loving lives of justice, peace, joy, love and hope. We believe that Christ’s mission is our mission.
We recognize that God is always present within, among and ahead of us.
We trust God’s generous nature and seek to be generous in return.
We believe in the power of peace. We are called to contribute to God’s dream of Shalom for all of creation.
We honor the worth of all persons.
We especially set as a priority our children and youth, and we value intergenerational ministry.
We participate in creating a space of radical hospitality and belonging, inviting all to experience the grace of God in covenant community.
We spend intentional energy in education and discernment to create a space of welcome for all.
We express our attitude of welcome in how we talk, act, worship and play.
We recognize that each person is on a spiritual journey and we commit to supporting one another with a call to be grounded in justice and focused on being a prophetic people.
We listen deeply to one another, honoring the sacredness of each life story. When we encounter a space of mistrust, disagreement, or fear of one another we will choose to listen first with an open mind and heart.
We share openly with one another, inviting one another to explore what it means to be a people of diversity who embrace unity through the Holy Spirit. We believe that difference is beautiful and we commit ourselves to learning from those who bring a unique perspective.
We work to stay vulnerable with one another, to be fully present, to stay curious, and remain open to transformation through God’s call to be a sacred community.
We believe that all are called to be servants in the service of one another. In particular, we are called to live lives of faith and peace in our communities as we serve the marginalized and oppressed. We live our faith in our communities as individuals and as a corporate body.
We believe that creation is sacred and that God is still creating to fulfill divine purpose.
We dedicate ourselves to the care and hope for all of creation by living gently and responsibly on the earth.
We seek to make the choice, always, to love.
While this covenant is expressed in many ways, it always supports the mission, message and love of Jesus Christ.
This means we value social justice in a world hungry for transformative peace.
Jesus came to give good news to the poor, to release the captive, to give sight to the blind – to set us free.
We covenant with one another to do this same work.
Wow, right? It drew me in. I wanted to be a part of it.
This first part of this activity was an invitation to rest in God’s indwelling in us. To see ourselves as beloved, and to recognize and honor our unique offering in the body of Christ, as we already are. And this created an incredible sense of safety, and a strong desire to continue to show up in the world as ourselves, with all of our beauty and sacred love. From this foundation, the next part of the activity was to read through the Covenant again and let our hearts rest on words that invite us into a new way of being going forward.
For some, they were the same words, but seen with a new love and hope. For others, they were new words that felt like a call to action based on their sincere and loving desires. And for still others, they were words that revealed a deep hurt, providing a sacred space for healing and trust where Christ works in and through us. For all, together in loving unity that honors our eternal wholeness, we were called to be healers of the brokenness that too often masks the glory of God that is already in us all. To give good news to the poor, to liberate the captive.
Both of these activities this morning blessed those who heard the message with an opportunity to be reminded of their divine nature, and to believe that they are deeply and truly loved, just as they are. We are beloved. And this was felt through an authentic being with each other. No mantras or repetitive right answers, just being with each other and seeing each other. It was beautiful to be with a community that heals each other in such a radical way.
Mixed with announcements for the coming month, campy heartfelt church songs, prayers for other communities from other cultures and faiths, and testimonies of belonging to God’s human family, this community offered something I needed today. I feel lifted by what I was witness to this morning. I’m grateful for the way they showed up in the world, in my world. My heart feels lighter, and I have the joy and hope that the gospel of Jesus Christ promises.