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Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Sept. 4: Connect to CommUnity
Catherine Painter, author, speaker from Raleigh
August 16, 2011
3 MIN READ TIME

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Sept. 4: Connect to CommUnity

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for Sept. 4: Connect to CommUnity
Catherine Painter, author, speaker from Raleigh
August 16, 2011

Focal Passages: Psalm 133:1-3; 1 Cor. 12:12-18, 21-26

Growing up, I was impressed with ways my parents connected
to the community. They invited friends home from church for “dinner,” relatives
dropped in at meal time, and Mama entertained Home Demonstration Club members
on the front porch. I remember my father’s habit of throwing up his hand to
greet oncoming drivers.

Reentering the world today would startle them as they found
adults isolating themselves from the community. Instead of David’s assessment
of community as “good and pleasant when brothers can live together,” (Ps.
133:1), they would encounter some opposite situations.

Stopping to welcome a newcomer to the community would not
guarantee an invitation to enter the house and visit, even if Mama presented a
home-baked dessert. Asking one’s surname might gain it reluctantly, and instead
of Father’s highway greetings returned, he might encounter road rage. With
pizza parties replacing church covered-dish meals, and communication limited to
Facebook, my parents might wonder whatever happened to community.

In contrast, Paul described community among believers as
necessary, rather than optional, comparing the church to the human body where
all parts work in unity to form the whole (1 Cor. 12:12-18).

I’m grateful that before mentioning God’s name in the
classroom became frowned upon, my literature teacher required the class to
memorize the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi.
A framed copy hangs today on my study wall.

The words serve me well while connecting to new communities
of believers; for since retiring, my minister husband Jack has served one
interim pastorate after another, and presently he pastors the lovely Carolina
Pines Baptist Church
in Raleigh.

Among the different renderings of St. Francis’ prayer, my
favorite remains the one I memorized long ago: “Lord, make me an instrument of
Thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury,
pardon. Where there is despair, hope; where there is doubt, faith. Where there
is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

“O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be
consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved, as to
love. For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are
pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

When Christians live the prayer, connecting to commUnity
becomes certain, the Body of Christ remains healthy, and blessings are enjoyed
by all.