Beloved Community

Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.                                                                                    Philippians 2:1-4

Monday was Martin Luther King Day, and my wife and I spent the day honoring his memory in various ways. The obvious one was our participation in a service at a community event held at a primarily African-American church. The event was properly honoring and uplifting. The theme was about trying to bring about the dream of Dr. King – the creation of a “Beloved Community”. We acknowledged that we as a society have not often been very successful in doing that, but it remains an aspirational goal nonetheless.   

The other way that we inadvertently honored Dr. King was one that caught me by surprise- one that we had not expected. In the afternoon, we decided to go to a movie. We seldom attend movies at the Cinema, but I had wanted to see A Man Called Otto starring Tom Hanks. I really like his work and I have seen most of his movies.

If you have not seen the movie and do not want it spoiled, stop reading here- I won’t be offended.

However, if you have seen the movie, you know that the theme of the movie is all about a beloved community rallying around a difficult man whose life was torn by grief and anger. It was a wonderful movie. Yes, it was hard to see much of it through the tears, but it was worth the effort!

Making a “Beloved Community” is within our reach in our own little spaces. We do not expect that our entire nation or world will be transformed into a loving community- we are too broken for that. However, within our own spaces, we can create little “Beloved Communities”. Neighborhoods, small groups, churches, support groups, book clubs, indeed any contained group in which we participate can become such a community.

If we are intentional about transforming small spaces, maybe such spaces can get larger. Being on the path to a “Beloved Community” is the point. The goal may not be reached this side of heaven, but it is our job to try.

Prayer: Lord, give us a vision for communities who can love one another, Amen

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