Communal LifeNew Every Morning | September 23, 2020
Whether or not others might call me a Christian is up for grabs, but I belong to a faith tradition formed and steeped in the idea of self-denial for love of the neighbor and rooted in community. Just by the nature of my baptism I am part of a distinct and storied community whether I like it or not, whether I acknowledge it or not. I belong to a tradition that tells me my life is not really my own but rather is caught up in the divine and communal life of something much bigger than myself. I am a character in a story I did not write, and there are many other characters in addition to myself who are equally important. But these are all tenets I find hard to swallow on a daily basis. I prefer the parts of the tradition that talk about grace and God’s forgiveness of us and the fact that none of us can ever really measure up to perfection. These parts offer me the illusion that I am off the hook from striving to be something I obviously was not cut out to be—holy.
—Enuma Okoro, Reluctant Pilgrim: A Moody, Somewhat Self-Indulgent Introvert’s Search for Spiritual Community (Fresh Air Books, 2010)
Which parts of your faith tradition do you easily acknowledge, and which ones do you find hard to swallow? Join the conversation.
Carry each other’s burdens and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.
—Galatians 6:2 (CEB)
Prayer for the Week
Forgive me when I am reluctant to engage as you call me to do. Surround me with a faith community that encourages and challenges me to participate in God’s unfolding drama.
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(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)
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Be holy, as I am holy – this seems like such a far stretch for me. Of course it does – because I am trying to think it is all on me. Instead of trying to attain this…I think, now, that it is more about releasing, about submission, about sacrifice. Surrender.
I used to think peace – like a river – such a nice song, a pie in the sky thought. But God made it realer than real for me – and what a grace that is. I do believe He wants to bless us…in spiritual ways, not necessarily material, worldly ways – which is what we sometimes have in mind. He, indeed, is a good, good Father. We need new eyes to see and desires from a submitted heart. He is extravagant, and I am humbled in awe.
Not sure I have answered the question, or if any of my words make sense.
Such pleasant Fall days – doors open, brilliant sunshine. Yesterday I took a few minutes between each class to stand outside on my sidewalk and soak in the sun. Took a walk after dinner. I delayed mowing my lawn – will get to it today…an even warmer day.
I am like the author in that I consider myself a Christian, but I am not part of a church community. This small group is my faith community and I have gained and grown much more here than at church.
Prayers for Jill and her students as they continue to teach and learn online, may they have true connection.
Prayers for Robert, may his health continue to allow him to be so very active and a vital member of his church community.
Prayers for Ally’s business and David’s health. Prayers for Mr Pete’s family, may God hold them in their sorrow.
Prayers for Marcy and her continued freedom from migraines.
Tazzie’s respiratory issue is worse and I don’t know if their is anything I can do to ease his suffering. I feel helpless.
Prayers, thank you and stay well dear UR
I am a Methodist and love the part of my faith tradition which connect with Wesleyan theology, such as prevenient and sanctifying grace. I’m not as good at extending grace to some folks, especially the ones I’m in community with who can be difficult to deal with, especially the ones who like to “stir the pot”. My family came from the holiness side of Methodism, which espouses strongly the doctrine of Christian perfection, believing that a person can be entirely sanctified. I’m not sure that is possible in this life. I rely on means of grace, such as Bible study, prayer, my accountability partner, meditation, journaling, etc. to connect with God. I do prefer to stay home, but have resumed attending services with our church.
David had the sniffles last night and was coughing a little. We try not to freak out over these things, but it’s hard. He had no fever. The COVID after effects continue, so please lift us up in prayer. My partner ins starting our business has some struggles right now and I have upcoming eye surgery. We are wondering if putting off starting our business until first of year might be wise. Seeking God’s leading about this.
Jill, you are so right: only by the Lord’s help can we attain any measure of holiness. Glad to hear you are enjoying these beautiful fall days. So am I. Julie, the UR family is such a blessing to me. Over the last several months, I don’t know what I would have done without y’all. Thank you for your prayers and support. God has used you mightily. Know that I’m praying for Tazzie. My little Mickey and my Lewis both have chroning URI issues. Mickey is on a round of antibiotics right now. Lewis is due for a steroid shot soon. That helps him a lot. Don’t know if that is an option for Tazzie. Many prayers. I pray all are well today. May God bless us through this community, connecting us to Him and leading us to love and good works.