Longing for Belonging
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (I John 3:1)
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (I John 4:7-8, 11-12)
The book of First John is a short course on theology and discipleship and perhaps my favorite New Testament book. As we read and study, we can find clues about: identity, “Who am I?” belonging, “Whose Am I?” purpose “Where am I going?” and community, “Who is going with me?” These questions summarize much of our internal wrestling during the journey of life. The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly disrupted, for many, positive responses to these life questions. Who are we in the midst of this disrupted and separated world? What is our purpose? What has happened to a sense of belonging in community?
The scripture gives me a powerful reminder and assurance. I am a child of God! I am loved by God! I am called to love. I belong to the world-wide family of God.
Recently while leading a Charge Conference by Zoom I was touched by the strong healing reality of community. Several couples were attending by Zoom video or telephone, while others were gathered in the sanctuary, masked and socially distanced. One couple attending by Zoom were locked down in their assisted living/nursing home facility. They spoke of isolation and loneliness and the difficulty of life when unable to even leave their rooms because of a virus breakout. Then others began to share with this couple and before long they were both beaming smiles and voicing appreciation and the whole congregation elated. They all experienced community and love that night at a Charge Conference!
We are not meant to be alone and isolated. God is with us! We are God’s children! We belong to the great community of God that we call the Church of Jesus Christ. Love impels us to reach out to love others. We will discover the belonging for which we long as we remember God’s love for us and to offer ourselves to others who also yearn for deep, connecting love.
Gracious God, when I feel lonely and sad, remind me that you love me and will not leave me. Open my eyes to others who yearn for belonging and give me the courage to offer love and community to them. Hear my prayer in the name of Jesus, the foundation of the Church. Amen.
May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.