Camino de Santiago also known as "The Way of St. James" is a pilgrimage leading to the supposed remains of St. James in Northwestern Spain. Hundreds of thousands of individuals walk the spiritual journey each year hoping to find themselves, their purpose or just their way in this world that they live. Some carry tremendous burdens down the trodden paths that so many have walked before. It is on these paths where individuals no longer walk by themselves but are together searching for healing, reconciliation, belonging and self-worth. It is a journey of love!
We are all on a journey to love whether on a historic pilgrimage or just our everyday lives. The searching for this higher power is what transforms us if we let it. So let's explore what love is and what role it has in community.
What is love?
Oprah interviewed Pastor Wintley Phipps about his definition of love.
"Love is when you choose to be at your best when the other person is not at their best. Love is when what you want is never important. But what the other person needs and wants is always paramount."
I think there are some great points we can gather from this definition but I would also encourage you to read through 1 Corinthians 13. You can also check out how our brains are affected by aspects of love at SITNBoston.
1. Love is a Choice - This is what first stands out to me. We can choose to love every moment of every day and every person of that day.
2. Asks for Your Best Self - Love pushes us to be our best selves. I find this being so difficult at times but should be our ultimate goal when we love others. Healthy relationships and organizations help others move further along their journey to who they want to be. For more information about being your best self go to this blog titled Bestselfology.
3. Moves us into Community - You cannot know someone's best without taking the time to get to know their worst. Love pushes us forward into relationships and community. It is in community where love happens. Community knocks down the walls of division and unites us together. Our own personal inadequacies take on a different light and we are accepted for who we are. This is what love does.
4. Love Removes Ourselves - We all have things we want in our lives. However for us to truly love we must set aside our perception that our wants are important when compared to others needs. Our focus cannot be internal but an outward focus on others. Emptying ourselves of those selfish desires.
5. It Upholds People - The last part is the need for us to lift others up. Affirming and encouraging relationships that focus on the needs of others is at the heart of the virtue. Loving others is essentially moment by moment lifting others up. When this happens loving communities are formed and self-worth is renewed.
Communities of Love
Just like the Camino de Santiago many times we start our journey individually with our own purpose, goals, and burdens. However as we travel we share with others and suddenly realize our journey is not just our own. It's an intricately woven pathway that is connected with those that cross our paths. Our selfish desires move to the back while we uphold the weary travelers we meet along the way. Our hardships become easier and our decisions more meaningful. It is in these places and relationships where community changes who we are and sometimes even our destinations. Communities of love transform us!
Say "yes" this Advent season to the journey before you. This journey that brings us all into loving community if we allow it. Do not shy away because of the burdens you carry but choose to love.
Let's leave you with this awesome video about how communities of love can happen if we allow it. Plus the tune and dancing in it are just fun!
Advent season is moving right along! Please place yourself in loving community this week whether at church, in a coffee shop or a place of your choosing. Join us next week as we explore the virtue of Joy!
When my oldest son was younger I would rock with him singing songs before bedtime. Often he would say, "Sing Peace Daddy, Sing Peace." At that age he did not know the name of the song so he configured language he could use where I would understand. The song was "I've got Peace like a River." Since than, the phrase "Sing Peace" has always stuck with me.
I love the images that float through my mind as I think of Singing Peace. However they quickly dissipate when I think of those in the world experiencing personal shame about their own self worth. Those in conflictual relationships that are unable to make amends. And people witnessing or involved in violent acts that will forever change who they are.
All these images make me realize eve more we need to "Sing Peace". But how do we do that in ourselves, our community, and our world? What are our personal or communal barriers which have halted the expression of Peace? How is the Christmas season related to Peace? What can I do to bring about peace in my world?
Finding Peace in Ourselves
It seems singing peace into our world should start with ourselves. First inner peace is a way of living! It's not some unrealistic goal that leaves us levitating above the ground. Peace is living within ourselves, our emotions and our environment. However the tricky thing is life happens which creates imbalance. Sometimes its minor unsettledness and others a significant unease that brings irritability and other emotions.
So how do we find and work toward peace in ourselves? Any change always starts with a step. If you want more peace on your journey first take a small practical step. There are many ways to do this but check out Henrik Edberg's "15 things you can start doing today to help you find inner peace". If you are wanting peace in your relationships than go to this article from the blog Tiny Buddha to help.
Peace this Christmas
The video below was produced by Nick Snyder in 2016. It does an incredible job identifying why we need peace in our world and how Christmas is about bringing peace to that world.
Creating Peace in Our World
What would the world be like if we strived for peace? What can we do to sing peace in our communities?
Listen and Be Aware - Listen to your neighbors and people in your community. Open your eyes to what you see. It is in those basic skills that needs are realized and opportunities for peace happen.
Promote Nonviolence and Inclusion - Actively use your voice to promote lifestyles of peace. Create open communication and environments in your life where all are welcome and safe.
Daily Prayer for Peace - Community of Christ does a daily prayer for peace in their temple in Independence, MO. Dec. 3rd marks their 25 anniversary of praying daily for peace in a specific country across our globe. If you are interested in taking part in this or learning more about it go to the Daily Prayer for Peace.
Donate to a Worthy Cause - Check out organizations before you just send your money to make sure they match your values. If you are looking for organizations creating peace in communities I would suggest you explore Outreach International, HealthEd Connect, OxFam America or Energy For All.
I want to leave you with the song, "Peace, Salaam, Shalom" by Emma's Revolution. Emma's Revolution is made up of two peace activist musicians Pat Humphries and Sandy O.
May Peace rest upon all of you this week! This week take another step on your journey by creating peace in yourself or your community. Next week come back as we discuss the virtue of Love!
Craig Hidy like the majority of ministers in Community of Christ is a bi-vocational, self sustaining ordained minister. He is a member of the Midlands Mission Center Emporia Team and an ordained Seventy. He and his family, live in Topeka, Kansas.
The mission of the Seventy
“After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.” Luke 10:1-3 NRSV
What is a Seventy?
The Seventy carry out missionary work for the church in close association with other missionary leaders. They represent Christ primarily as ministers of evangelism through witnessing, inviting, and church planting.
They especially proclaim and promote Jesus Christ’s invitation to faithful discipleship through vibrant witness, and train individuals and congregations in witness and invitation.
They particularly minister with seekers, individually and in groups, to share the gospel in relevant ways and to invite response.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.
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