And so it was this past Sunday when we gathered in worship, commissioned our high school mission trip participants and heard from the pulpit the call to be the laborers God calls us to be. Richard Foster, in his book, “Celebration of Discipline”, writes “To worship is to experience Reality, to touch Life. It is to know, to feel, to experience the resurrected Christ in the midst of the gathered community”. He goes on to write, “Service flows out of worship”. What I saw so clearly on Sunday was how that dancing Spirit brings us together in community and leads to a depth of service that no one of us could engage in alone.
On Sunday, we sang together, prayed together, ate a fantastic Puerto Rican lunch together, and welcomed new friends and old to our community of faith. And on Monday, Juneteenth, we came together again as an even broader community to welcome new neighbors from all corners of the world, speaking Spanish and French, Dari and Portuguese who are now living at the Ramada Inn on Tuckahoe Road. We communicated without words, through games, good food prepared by neighborhood restaurants, congregants and friends, through bubbles and soccer balls, face painting and music. We shared smiles and hugs. Bronxville children played happily with Dads and their children from as far away as Burkina Faso and Venezuela and for a few hours at least, we were simply all children of God sharing in the joy of being together in community.
Each of us is stronger in community. Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:20 that “where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them”. The hardest times in life are a bit easier to bear when we are in community. The good times in life are best shared in community. The Holy Spirit was dancing with us at our community picnic and at lunch in the Cloister. The Holy Spirit dances with us each Sunday in worship and sends us out together as a community of faith and purpose serving together to bring light to our neighbors in Bronxville, Yonkers and Mount Vernon, to new friends in Puerto Rico and our mission partners in Kenya and Ukraine.
The strength of our community is the ability to see and respond to needs among and around us, working together as the hands and feet of Christ to do together the work that none of us could do alone. In the words of one of the mission trip training videos, when we only look at a person and their needs, we can look away and not respond. But when we see a person and their needs with empathetic eyes, we cannot “unsee”. And when we see, we are called to the dance of service in worship and community.