Tuesday, February 24, 2015

In 1913, the American philosopher Josiah Royce wrote, “My life means nothing, either theoretically or practically, unless I am a member of a community.” Royce observed that, besides the actual communities we experience on a daily basis, there was also an ideal “beloved community” made up of all those who would be dedicated fully to the cause of loyalty, truth and reality itself. Royce founded the Fellowship of Reconciliation, a movement that was later joined by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

In Facing the Challenge of a New Age, Dr. King wrote, “But the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of a beloved community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opposers into friends. It is this kind of understanding good will that will transform the deep gloom of the old age into the exuberant gladness of the new age. It is this love which will bring about miracles.” 

Dr. King wrote these words in 1956 and almost 60 years later, the message of transforming love and the beloved community is as current now as it was then.

For many of us, the church is a place where the beloved community can emerge and flourish. 

Much, much earlier, writing to the Galatians, Paul put it like this: 

“It is through faith that all of you are God’s children in union with Christ Jesus. You were baptized into union with Christ, and now you are clothed, so to speak, with the life of Christ himself. So there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, between slaves and free people, between men and women; you are all one in union with Christ Jesus.” 

Our Rejoicing Spirits congregations and participants have known and experienced that reciprocity, vulnerability and kindness move our churches toward becoming beloved communities. We work to ensure that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. (I Corinthians 12:25)

May we together continue to move toward the creation of the beloved community, even as we go by Rejoicing Spirits time, “that is always flexible, unhurried and kind.”

May we embrace each other’s vulnerability and value as we continue to discover what matters most. 

May we all, as one in union with Christ Jesus, direct our hearts to reconciliation and redemption, to bring about that exuberant gladness of a new age.

The Rev. Dr. Jim Fruehling

Vice President of Behavioral and Spiritual Supports