By Father Casey
I wonder when you first knew you belonged here?
Perhaps it was the first time someone greeted you by name as you walked through the doors.
Maybe it was when you were going through something painfully hard, and you could feel the love of the church behind you.
Could it have been during the lockdown, when someone brought communion to you so we could all share the Eucharist together?
Or was it this past Easter, when we gathered in the early morning darkness to light the new fire and sing Alleluias?
Maybe you can’t even recall the exact moment, because it’s been a gradual realization over months or years, but now you know.
Transfiguration is where you pray, connect, serve, worship, grow, and love.
Belonging here means we belong to each other. We are bound together in divine love and made into something far more permanent than a club or team or political party. We belong to each other as members of the Body of Christ. We are part of God’s holy family.
That’s why we look after one another, and pray for one another, and love one another…the people we know well and those we don’t know at all; the people who look like us and the people who seem totally different; in good times and tough times; when we feel like it and when we don’t; when we all agree and when we are divided.
Belonging is what gives us purpose and what makes it possible to live out our faith. It’s how we have any chance of actually honoring the promises we make in Baptism. Only together, in this community where we all belong, can we
Proclaim the gospel by word and example
Seek and serve Christ in all persons
Love our neighbor as ourselves
Strive for justice and peace and
Respect the dignity of every human being
Only together can we be the church Christ called us to be, the church the world needs more than ever.
This weekend we’ll begin a four-week preaching series on belonging, and this theme also serves as the foundation for our annual stewardship campaign. I’m going to kick the series off by looking at one of my favorite stories in the Bible, when a young man rushes up to Jesus to ask, “What must I do to inherit eternal life (Mark 10:17-31)?” I believe Jesus’ answer has so much to teach us about the ways we belong – to God and to each other – and gives us a window into how we experience more of the abundant life Jesus longs for us to know.
So, if you feel like you belong here, or if you are simply hungry for a sense of belonging, I hope you’ll make the effort to join us soon. Our community is still recovering from the long hiatus, when we became habituated to being apart. As much as we missed our community during the darkest days of the pandemic, reconnecting does not happen with a snap of the fingers. We are having to relearn how to be together. It takes time and effort. It takes patience and dedication. But the reward is a gift unlike any other, a gift God longs for each and every one of us to experience: the gift of belonging.