To love and be loved. Those are the words that filled my heart as I returned from a quick overnight at Estes Park with five dear friends. We have known one another for many years. We have laughed, cried, rejoiced, mourned, prayed, studied, and shared the particulars of our lives. My heart is full.
On the trip home I reflected upon on the particular ways our lives have connected and intersected over the years. The congregation in which we met is the common bond. Our lives may not have otherwise been joined had we not all been members of Christ the Servant in Louisville, Colorado. The power of a community of faith to connect people is particular.
As we love in the manner of Jesus we get to love “in particular”. We get to experience God's presence in the everyday and ordinary. We get to meet people right where they are and trust God meets us there also. Here is an article on the scandal of the particular. God loves you in particular -in this particular moment, in this ordinary time and in this particular place.
This weekend at Lord of the Hills, we will welcome new members. Perhaps this new beginning will be a time for some them to find others who share a common bond. As part of this welcome, we connect them with mentors who will help them navigate getting involved. Connections matter.
We have launched the congregation connection software REALM. We want to make sure that each person in each household can find a way to be connected and gets to choose what information they will receive from the church. To love and be loved is one of my goals for each of us in this congregation. Also to give and to receive, to bless and be blessed, to pray and to be prayed for, to invite and be invited are outcomes I pray for each of us..
When we were invited to participate with other local ELCA congregations to use the REALM Connect software I was drawn to the power of the particular messaging it allows. We are moving away from saying everything to everyone (not ever really sure if anyone heard anything) to saying particular things to particular people. Using REALM means that participants ask for the information they want to be shared with them. It’s going to take time. Patience, resilience, and fortitude are needed to keep at this. Change is hard.
There are lots of nuances and challenges to making this type of change. And we get to rely on God to be with us every step of the way. The endgame and goal is to love and be loved. Use this tool to help us share and create opportunities to be better connects. The goal is also to allow more engagement as we help one another to serve and be served, to grow and help others grow. Love. Serve. Grow.
The connections we make in our faith community interweave our lives, one with another. So here is a particular invitation if this is a fit for you. Would you consider being part of our Prayer Chain? We get to pray for one another, the concerns of our community, and the world as followers of Jesus.
Consider taking the first step- pray and reflect upon if this is a good use of your time and fit for you. Are you willing to take the time to hold in prayer and also in confidence the needs and concerns that are brought forth in worship and during the week?
If so, the next step is to be logged onto REALM and then making the request to be added to the Prayer Chain on REALM. It will open you up to receive the prayer requests of others and add them to your prayers. It will give you the opportunity to directly post your prayer requests and the prayer requests of others. We are in this together. REALM is designed to get us better connected.
Over the next several months you will see new opportunities offered to connect and be connected. Are you willing to make meals, give rides, participate in local service projects? Or maybe you have a passion and want to get people connected around a project or a study. Look for when new groups are created or ask how you can create a group. Be open to the work of the Spirit as you choose where to spend the gift of your time and energy. Through REALM you can explore ways to LOVE, SERVE and GROW that are a good fit for you in particular at this particular time in your life.
As we change what we share with everyone in our community we are working to make sure it really applies to most everyone. For example currently we share the blog posts I write every week with everyone we see that often less than 40 people read it. Soon there will be an group on REALM for those who want to receive the blog post. It is already posted our website so it doesn't need to be sent to everyone. We are going to learn and experiment how we share information.
When you need help navigating REALM or another part of our life together please have the courage and willingness to ask for the particular help you need. You are important. You are invited to ask for the help you need to address your particular concern and challenge. We are here for you.
When you are rejoicing and celebrating you are invited to share that in our prayers and life together. The Prayer Chain can also be filled with prayers of gratitude, joy and thanksgiving. To love and be loved. This is God's will for us and through us. God wants us to be connected to one another in all of it. God loves each of us in particular. May you take in the particular words today that are for you.