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The Gift of the "Rub of Community Life"

October 21, 2020

“Lord, you have been our refuge *
from one generation to another.”
-Psalm 90: 1

One of my favorite lines from my Rule of Life is a phrase that talks about coming to know God more deeply through the “rub of community life.” There is something about living with other people that causes us to have to look at our own beliefs and behaviors in new ways. Sometimes this is easy. Other times it is quite challenging. Whether it is found under our roofs, or in the communities that make up our day to day affiliations, we find ourselves bumping up against difference.

One of the greatest gifts of a religious community is that this rub is always mediated through the love of God and our common prayer. We are not left adrift to sort it all out by ourselves. There is a deeper connectedness we experience through our baptismal promises. We trust that there is a mystery at play that we may not fully understand that can draw us more closely together. The more we are centered in God, the closer our connection to one another. Differences can function as revelatory experiences rather than causes of separation and greater distance.

Ironically, one of the hardest things about not being together in the same ways is that this “rub” of community life is experienced differently. We are more in our own spaces and perspectives and so we may forget the commonality we share through our prayer and faith. Whether it’s different opinions on how one should behave safely during a global health crisis, or radically different political perspectives, absent other positive gatherings these differences can start to rub more acutely. We may just be truly missing one another, and this gets expressed in words of frustration, lack of compassion, or lack of empathy for one another. As we become more distanced from the needs and concerns of one another, we may actually need the rub of common concern to help bind us together as the Body of Christ.

The Vestry for part of the reflection time this past week looked at some key phrases of scripture and from the Book of Common Prayer. My hope is they are good moments of pause for us as we approach our national elections and continue to discern the best ways forward for our many communities. We are blessed to be in a faith community with diversity of opinion and for that I am truly grateful. I pray we continue to give thanks for that which unites us and let the differences rub us in ways that draw us closer to Jesus Christ. Here are the passages we used at our Vestry meeting this week. I hope they are helpful touchstones for you as well in these times.

In faith we strive:

  • To love others as Jesus has loved me (John 13:34);
  • To treat others as I would want them to treat me (Luke 6:31);
  • To love my enemies, do good to those who hate me, bless those who curse me, and pray for those who abuse me (Luke 6:27-28);
  • To “proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ” (Book of Common Prayer, 305); and
  • To “strive for justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being” (Book of Common Prayer, 305).

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