As I ponder the ways in which Faith Matters, my mind is drawn to another pair of words: Faith Communities. These days, Carol and I live in two different worlds: we spend about half of our year in Louisville, Kentucky, the other half in Michigan. When people in each place ask us about what we like about the other, our answer always centers around the faith communities which welcome, encourage and sustain us in each place.
I am convinced that faith is like that. Lived alone, it tends to shrivel up and dry out. It is the several communities of which we are a part – our physical neighbors, those we see on a regular basis, often at church, as well as those we see more rarely and interact with mostly electronically – with whom we share our worries and concerns, who enrich our lives not only with joy of spending time together but also with their reminders of the faith-based roots that sustain our energies and our hopes.
This thinking leads me to deep gratitude for those who are engaged in those faith communities along with us, for the institutions that provide the framework in which they operate, and for the work of the Holy Spirit, which provides the bedrock, the lubrication, the energy and encouragement driving and sustaining those faith-based relationships.
I well know that it requires a commitment of time, energy, and yes, also of financial resources, to sustain the institutions and relationships that keep those communities of faith strong. In these early days of this year’s stewardship drive at St. Andrews, I am glad to add my words of support in reminding people of how blessed we are to be part of a church that is itself a community of faith and that provides the context in which many of these relationships are established and sustained. I am thankful for each of the friends with whom I am able to share those relationships, for the church that provides the context in which many of them grow, and most of all, for the gift of the Holy Spirit, an active participant in each of those communities. What a blessing these communities of faith are for each of us. May we do all we can to nurture them and keep them strong.
Don Mead, Author