We Belong to One Another

by The Rev. Dr. Jason Parkin, Rector

About a year before I went off to seminary to study for the priesthood, I adopted a Rule of Life. Grounded in ancient monastic traditions, rules of life are designed to help people focus on God and on God's presence in their daily lives through a rhythm of prayer, reflection, worship, and other actions. One of the most important parts of the rule of life I seek to follow is the tradition of saying Morning Prayer (Book of Common Prayer, pp. 37ff or 75ff) every morning as I begin my day or when I arrive at the church. I find that starting my day grounded in the rich, resonant words of this Daily Office helps remind me of who I am as a child of God, and of my particular vocation within the world and the community of faith.

It will not surprise you to read that saying the same words nearly daily for, lo, these 30 years has resulted in times when the words themselves have been less meaningful than at other times. But there is one element that has never failed to move, stimulate, and refresh me: and that is my custom, adopted about 15 years ago, of praying every day for all the members of the congregation listed on a single page of the parish directory. I hold up each person by name before God, whether or not I know them well, whether or not I know the conditions and situations they are facing at that moment. I pray that they-that you-may be strengthened by the soothing Spirit of God; that troubled hearts may be calmed, weary or sick bodies given rest and healing, joyous souls nurtured by God's nearness.

I mention this personal practice only in order to emphasize this fact: we are all part of each other. We need each other. We live with and for and in each other. If the events of the year passed have taught us nothing else, they have reminded us of how dearly we need to be connected one to another, and how important it is to belong to a community larger than ourselves. In the face of events cosmic and often overwhelming, it is difficult to remember that our lives are inextricably interwoven, frequently in very small, invisible ways. And yet, rarely has it been more important than at the present time to find strength and succor, comfort and courage in others; and rarely has there been such a good time to remember that God surrounds and embraces all of us, and calls us into community with one another. So one of my prayers this New Year is that we will all take seriously our commitment to our common life: that we will redouble our efforts to gather with our brothers and sisters for worship, to take part in outreach ministries, to get the kids to church school or youth group, to take time for prayer and Bible study: to help build, in other words, a community of ever deeper love and connection and compassion.

By the way, I am partway through the Gs right now....