As I sit with my laptop on my lap and a television show clattering int he background of my attention, it is after 1;30am on Monday, February 17th. It’s President’s Day, and at this late (or early) hour, I just got home from the church.
I was called down shortly before midnight to news of a break-in on the north side of the Sanctuary.
If this is the first you’ve heard of this, please take a moment and take a breath. Nothing was taken and the person responsible never entered the building before being stopped by our on-site security. When I arrived, police had arrived and had someone in the back of their vehicle. It was not someone I have ever seen before. But the break-in is not what I want to explore here.
We are incredibly blessed to have our capable on-site security, Easy, who saw what was happening on a routine tour of the church grounds. He was able to reach me, and I got to the church shortly thereafter. While Easy was calling local police for assistance, a neighbor offered assistance and stayed to speak with responding officers. When it became time to secure the Sanctuary, Maddie, the coordinator for our weekly dental clinic came to help. The ever-responsive Louis Perez responded to a call for help and directed us to tools and plywood. We were even checked in on by one of our regular Project Grace volunteers, who walked by while pushing his bike.
Between us, we managed to board up the space where the glass had been kicked out. As of this writing, there is still work to be done to complete the cleanup and make the board-up job a bit prettier.
It occurred to me that this is an incredible illustration of community. In a time of need, people came together and worked together. There was connection. There was community.
This is not unlike what I suspect many of us have experienced in this congregation. Perhaps we have been in a time of crisis, and we have been supported and guided by our church family. Perhaps we have faced a difficult task, and we have been aided and counseled by members of our church family. Perhaps we have faced questions of life or of faith, and we have received guidance and care from members of our church family.
I believe that connection and community are a critical part of our faith. Our recent sermon series, Somos del Señor, reminded us that we already have the gifts we need; we are called by God; that God’s Spirit continues to empower and strengthen us; and that God joins us the transformational work before us.
What more can we do together? How can we grow in our faith and discipleship, in our presence in—and service to—the Pacific Beach community? How can we look even beyond our own congregation toward cooperation and collaboration with other churches to do new things in new ways and reach new people?
It can feel easy to isolate ourselves out of fear rather than to allow our loved ones and our faith community to see and acknowledge our authentic selves; but by courageously opening our hearts, I believe we find new strength and new hope. In the same way, it can feel easy for churches to separate our congregations into silos rather than to cooperate and collaborate in fresh expressions of faith; but in doing so, I believe we can find new strength and new hope.
As we enter into this Lenten season, may God continue to call us toward connection, toward faith, toward growth, and toward community.