A friend of mine, Rev. Marcia King, and I were talking after I’d completed by Ph.D. in five challenging years, when I said, “There is no point in me participating in commencement. I don’t have any family; there’s probably no one who would attend.
“But we’re your family,” said Marcia!
Those words made my heart skip. Soon others in my Sunday school class echoed, “Yes, we’re your family and we’ll be there for you.”
It’s true that I don’t have any “family” in the biological sense, but I’ve found an incredible family where I worship at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Nashville, Tennessee.
On a hot Saturday in Nashville, August 13, 2011, seven people in my family showed up to cheer me on at commencement, helping me to celebrate an accomplishment that God called me to complete. All the glory belongs to God, but it is special to celebrate with other children of God. These seven people represented countless others from my church who encourage me, nurture my faith, and pray for me during good and bad times: Rev. Marcia King, Linda Crane, Bob Schwartz, Ingrid Wooten, Paul Teschan, Brian Miller, and Nicole Corlew. Immediately following commencement, my Ladies LIFE group (Living in Faith Every Day) hosted a celebration brunch!
They love me unconditionally. Through them, I feel God’s love for me, too.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in his book Life Together, “God has placed us in common life with other Christians and we learn what it means to have, ‘Brothers and sisters…in the Lord (Phil. 1:14).’ One is a brother or sister to another only through Jesus Christ. Each has been redeemed by Christ, absolved from sin, and called to faith and eternal life. The community consists solely in what Jesus Christ has done for us and to us. The fact that we are brothers and sisters only through Jesus Christ is of immeasurable significance. I have community with others and will continue to have it only through Jesus Christ.”
Bonhoeffer continues, “The more genuine and the deeper our community becomes, the more everything else between us will recede, and the more clearly and purely will Jesus Christ and his work become the one and only thing that is alive between us. We have one another only through Christ, but through Christ we really do have one another. We have one another completely and for all eternity.”
This is MY Family, my brothers and sisters in Christ. I’ve found this genuine and deeply relational community at St. George’s.
I pray that you, too, will find a Christian community that demonstrates the love of Jesus, showing you that He really does exist, here and now.