Continue the work that Jesus began

By The Rev. Cynthia Espeseth, St. Hilda St. Patrick | Jan 30, 2013

Last year couldn’t end soon enough, especially for my congregation of St. Hilda St. Patrick.

In the last three months of the year we had five deaths, two of them completely unexpected. One of those deaths was my husband’s.

In the midst of these deaths, the community gathered around and cried together, held each other, and took care of each other.

It makes a difference when you’re part of a faithful and committed group of people who will help bear your grief as well as your joy, who will cry and celebrate with you, and who will hold you together when the world is falling apart.

Christian communities understand themselves to be the ongoing and living body of Christ. Through our faith and our commitment to God’s hope for the world, we continue the work that Jesus began.

We make it our mission to feed the hungry, free the oppressed, take care of the broken-hearted and the sick. Sometimes those most in need are within our community, most of the time they are outside of our church doors. We strive to serve both.

The community that I pastor is a work in progress. We don’t have it perfect, because no community does. There are people who don’t know each other, and there are people who make the church the center of their social lives.

There are people who are courting within our community, and there are those who don’t like each other. We are very much a microcosm of the world. Each person makes a commitment to our community for different reasons.

Still, we come together week by week to pray and give praise to the One who made us. We pray for each other, we pray for many more that we don’t even know. Together, we do God’s work – regardless and because of the way we love.

The wonderful thing is, we are part of a much larger network of similar communities. As an Episcopal church we are part of the Diocese of Olympia. We are also part of a vast number of Christian churches in western Washington.

Even bigger than that, we are part of the body of people of all faith traditions. Together, all of us form the complete vision of humanity that God created.

Not one of us has sole understanding of the fullness of God. It takes all of humanity to be the reflection of God. No one faith community or tradition has the lock on faith or on perfection.

God’s hope is in all of us. Hope that we will be faithful in working together, living side-by-side in all our complex differences. We all yearn and strive for that one thing that is consistently sought after and desired above all else: acceptance and love.

When a community makes acceptance and love central to their being, then we are on the right path toward God. By participating in a community, we bring the fullness of our selves as God created us.

It’s messy, and sometimes uncomfortable, being part of a community. But it is the best way.

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