Suggested Practices: Belong

How does one practice belonging? It seems an abstract concept to take on as a spiritual discipline. Yet in the last few months we have all been made keenly aware of the depth of our belonging…. to our global community, to our families, to our communities of faith, and to the strangers with whom we share our lives. Truly, our lives are closely knit together. In these days that reality has been brought to the surface of our awareness. It has the potential to   press against us in ways that may feel intrusive and uncomfortable, even threatening. What we have learned in the past few weeks is that we are so intricately linked. We are all, in fact, so very close together.

This knowledge of this deep belonging is woven within us, yet so tragically often ignored. We live our lives, we adopt our patterns, we pursue our dreams, we grieve our losses, many times from a place of independence or isolation, faintly aware of the other. But underneath the current of this world is a unifying energy that seeks to draw us ever closer together. If we are still enough, if we open ourselves to the Eternal, our hearts begin to receive the reality of our belonging; we begin to feel that great and beautiful connection that we have with God, with every human made in God’s image, and with our created order. We all belong.

The Word made flesh showed us how to live into the reality of our great belonging. He showed us what compassion for the other looks like, that we are all our brother’s keeper, and that we are all truly one — in God, through God, and in each other (John 17). We belong to God. He showed us through his compassion that his heart breaks when we live unaware of our belonging, when we live as sheep without a shepherd (Mark 6).

We belong to God. Every one of us. Jesus has set a place for every one of us at the table. That is what we remember every time we gather as a family of faith, as ones who have received the love of God. And our greatest invitation in life is to experience that love, to know the depth, the height, the breadth, and the width of God’s love for us (Eph 3). There is no place that we can go, there is no state of our hearts from which we are not seen by God, that we will no longer belong to the one who sees us though the darkness (Psalm 139).

And we belong to each other. The words of the Prayer Book capture this so beautifully, in the Prayer for the Human Family:

“O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
–Book of Common Prayer, p. 815

We are facing a global pandemic the likes of which most of us have never seen. Within the setting of social distancing, caution, unease, quarantines, and community infection, we are so very aware of our proximity to others, and if we do not attend to our souls we can be deceived into thinking that it is the other that is the enemy, the threat to our lives. But nothing can be further from the truth. It is our great belonging that will carry us though. When Christ is free to live through us, to draw us to greater places of compassion for our brothers and sisters, to see each other not as a threat, but as a member of the human family, then we will come alive to the glorious reality of our great belonging.

When we practice belonging, we allow the breathe of God to fill us, to inspire us. We seek the deep rhythms of the Spirit that work to break us through our differences and draw us into one. We see each other as Christ sees us… ONE.

As we go through this time together, it would serve us well to remember the covenant of our baptism. Let it be for us truly that: a covenant. To breathe in our great belonging and to let it settle deep with us, to let this inspired vision become how we see others, to see Christ in us and though us and in each other, to know at the deepest places that we belong.

Every one of us.

Celebrant:Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers?
Candidate: I will, with God’s help.
Celebrant:Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?
Candidate: I will, with God’s help.
Celebrant: Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?
Candidate: I will, with God’s help.
Celebrant:Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?
Candidate: I will, with God’s help.
Celebrant:Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
Candidate:I will, with God’s help.

  • Reach out. It’s difficult to practice social distancing when we crave interaction with others. If you’re feeling alone, reach out to others in your house church. If you are feeling overwhelmed or depressed and would like prayer or someone to talk to, please ask our prayer ministry to help you hold this.
  • Connect in new ways. We’re opening up a church-wide online meeting space on our Bloom Basecamp account. Join below to share encouragement, support, and prayer with the Bloom community. ALSO, if you or your house church or group would like a video conferencing space, we can set one up for you. Just ask, and we’ll take care of it!
  • Practice praying through your breath. We all share the same air, the same earthly home, with everyone alive — people you’ve never even met. Invite the Spirit to fill you with the Kingdom reality of your belonging in Christ and your belonging to the human family.
  • Practice seeking and serving Christ in all people. The great call of the baptismal covenant, this reality is so deeply profound and so often times forgotten. When we see others as carrying the divine DNA, the image of God, it changes how we see them, and it changes how we experience the compassion of God. As unnatural as this may seem at first, actually ask the Spirit to give you eyes to see others as they truly are… beloved children of God. The people in line at the store, the people walking down your street, the commentators on the news… they are all made in the image of God, and we are better for seeing others in this true manner. This practice takes patience. It’s a very good thing the Spirit will give us that, as well!
  • Walk. Feel your body, the movement. Feel Christ sustaining your every breath. Ask the Spirit to make you come alive to the reality that you live and move and have your being in Christ. You belong to him. The whole of you.

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