Beloved Community

As a Pastor, Rev. Martin Luther King’s work simply overflows with beauty, all grounded in the richness of the Christian message. Every year, cyclically, I find myself re-drawn back to two MLK ‘legacies’. (A) A document – “Letters from a Birmingham Jail”. (B) A concept – “The Beloved Community.”

“Community” may be what stands most at risk in our current society. This has a been a long-standing trend, first noted years ago in the ground-breaking work of Robert Putnam, “Bowling Alone.” From bowling leagues, to volunteer fire companies, to churches, the trend away from “community” is apparent.

Maybe part of our job, as a church in this new era, is to say “enough.”

Emanuel Swedenborg talked a great deal about what community could look like. His descriptions form a fascinating parallel to MLK’s words on “The Beloved Community.” With an eye towards describing heaven, Swedenborg’s writes…

The more assemblies of angels that answer to each member, the more complete heaven is. In the heavens, all forms of perfection increase as numbers increase. This is because there is one goal for everything there in a unanimous focus of everyone on that goal. That goal is the common good. When this rules, there is benefit to individuals from the common good and from the good of individuals to the good of the whole. (Heaven and Hell 418)

The trick is this I imagine… while it remains easy in this day to admire “community” when we see it, the challenge is do our part to build it. Admiring it is great. Building it is better.

That takes work.

Join us. Online or in-person. Sunday service or small group. Serve at St. Francis or at NCL. Join us

Categories (tags):