Yesterday, Sunday, we began our new worship series titled Leading Causes of Life. We are using a template designed by Marcia McFey from WorshipDesignStudio.com. This series is based on a book by the same name which I have written about in earlier posts. Our first Sunday began with the statement Choose Life. Why wouldn’t we choose life? It seems like we make choices everyday that suggests to observers that we decided against life. Whether it is choices about what we put in our bodies or what we do or choose not to do. Why do we so often choose death, or at least things that lead to death?
What I enjoy about preparing to teach on this series is that my focus takes me away from trying to answer these questions. Instead I can focus my preparation and therefore my teaching on those things that result in life. Rather than talk about the obvious reasons that we shoudn’t smoke or eat certain foods I can talk about life-giving subjects like “connection” which will be the title of next Sunday’s teaching. Connections are life-giving.
In their book The Abundant Community authors Peter Block and John McKnight write about “connectors” as persons living in every community who seem to know the people around them and what they do for others.* This makes connectors valuable indeed for in connecting a person with need to a person with a desire and way to satisfy their need a life-giving connection is made. If we can buy into a basic assumption that our satisfaction with life comes out of using our abilities in community then we observe that both the giver and the receiver are gaining that which causes life. There is a reciprocity that is not dependent completely on a two-way barter. The recipient may not have a way to pay back the giver but seeks their own satisfaction in giving what they do have to someone else. The circle of connections expand and life flourishes.
“I already have enough friends.” This is a statement that I have heard said audibly and more often that I hear through actions or the lack of action. Indeed there is a point where we are simply unable to maintain a high degree of interaction with yet another person. I want to stay connected to my wife, my children, my mom, my siblings, other pastors, my congregation, my colleagues, my friends…my my. It is no wonder that I often feel “disconnected” from some of the very people I hold so dear. But I don’t see the solution in avoiding new connections any more than I see dropping connections with my family and closest friends.
In the book Leading Causes of Life we read “Our minds seem to be designed for the task of recognizing, initiating, managing, and responding to this dense fabric of highly complex social relationships” (p. 66).** So connections are not all the same but our need to be connected is woven into our human fabric. Connections make for healthy communities. Therefore, communities that become disconnected become unhealthy. “Healthy generative human communities are connected in ways that enable them to adapt to changing threats and opportunities as a whole. Unhealthy human communities find themselves incapable of adapting to reality because their connections are no longer generative and complex” (pp. 76-77).
At Asbury we value connections for these reasons and others. We choose life. But we also are prone to making choices that may hinder the very connections that are life-giving. Lord, help us to be hospitable in ways that allow life-giving connections to be made. Amen.
* Abundant Community by Peter Block and John McKnight.
** Leading Causes of Life by Gary Gunderson and Larry Pray.