Bonds of connection under threat
Writing in the Canberra Times last week Charles Purcell said that our need to connect, to touch and be touched, and to talk face-to-face is hardwired into our DNA.
He went on to give examples of how those bonds of connection are under threat every day… “we no longer have to have eye contact or physical contact with our bus driver. Gone are the days when the driver might offer a cheery ‘hello’ or share a joke as he hands you back your change. Now you can blank him or her out completely as you deploy your (MyWay) card.
“You don’t have to look at or speak to your Uber driver if you don’t want to, either. Instead, you can ‘rate’ them after the trip in a kind of hybrid ‘social media meets the secret police’ experiment.
“Supermarkets used to be vital outlets for shuts-in and the elderly starved of human contact and for whom that brief smile and chat at the checkout meant so much. Now we’re expected to serve ourselves, robbing us of that precious face-to-face interaction.”
In an age where bonds of connection are under threat, faith communities are places where people come together in a communal way. They are places where people can connect with others.
Early Christians risked their lives to meet face-to-face with others for worship, support, encouragement and fellowship. Likewise, we too, live communally with people from all ranges of life: young and old, rich and poor, women and men, conservative, liberal and everything in between.
Christianity isn’t a lonely and isolated existence. We need spiritual companions for the journey. We need the help, comfort, strength and support of others. We need the sound of another’s voice. We need somebody to tell our stories and share our faith. We need somebody to listen as we hear ourselves think.
We need close Christian friends with whom we can honestly confess, honestly voice our doubts, openly share our joys, pray regularly with and from whom we will receive advice and encouragement. When the storms of life come we need a loving fellowship of Christian people to help us weather the storms.
There is a whole world of people who are lost and searching for connection, belonging and community. My hope and prayer for St John’s is that we are a church that brings people into loving, life-giving, transformational relationships with Jesus and others… a church were people find hope… where they experience belonging… where forgiveness is extended and received… where people discover a sense of purpose and direction… and all within a culture of kindness and building others up.
Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” As a St John’s community may we experience that abundant life, both communally and as individuals.