The Occasional Shippment

Occasional thoughts from a young adult reveling in the messiness of life.

The Power of Community

This weekend, the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta elected its 10th Bishop. Though I was not among those voting in the election, I was fortunate enough to attend one of the many “walkabouts” the diocese conducted ahead of the elections. These walkabouts enabled the people to get to know the candidates and have a chance to ask questions.

When the Very Reverend Rob Wright (now Bishop-elect) spoke to our group, he said many things that resonated with me. One in particular was in response to a question he was asked about how he persevered during difficult times in his life and what learnings he received.

To this question, he said:

“I have been so fortunate to be a part of churches who could pray for me when I couldn’t pray, to sit beside people in pews who were singing when I didn’t have a song in me, to have people inject hope in me when I didn’t have enough for myself.”

These words, so eloquently strung together, brought home the importance of a faith community to me.

Oftentimes, we (and particularly us Episcopalians) personalize and internalize our faith so much that we miss the great blessings that come from boldly sharing ourselves with and in a community. In order to have someone pray when you don’t have a prayer and to have someone sing when you don’t have a song, it takes doing more than just showing up – it takes being open and boldly sharing your journey with others. It takes, in the words of Rev. Wright, being more public with your pain.

But I think that what makes this bold sharing so difficult is that it’s so easy to feel unworthy, to feel like “you’re doing it wrong” in the times where you’re struggling the most with your life or with your faith. I know, because I’ve been there. But, I have to keep reminding myself that struggling in life and struggling in faith are more often indicators that you’re doing it right.

Faith is messy, and so is life, and it’s when we actively struggle with these things that we can move forward in our journeys and move closer to God. But it’s not easy to face the struggles alone. The challenge for us (and for me in particular) is to remember the importance of–and to lean on the strength of–a faith community in these times.

I have always been a very private and independent person, but I’m seeing the great beauty, the great joy and the great spiritual growth that can come from reaching out when I’ve stumbled on my own journey.

And now, I do feel like there are people who will pray for me when I don’t have a prayer…people who will sing for me when I don’t have a song. And I know that they will keep praying and keep singing until I find the words again, and that is a glorious thing.


Photo Credit: Wesley Photography


2 comments on “The Power of Community

  1. crackedbells
    July 2, 2012

    I used your quote from the Bishop-elect in my sermon on Sunday–thank you so much. And thanks for the rest of your words. As another one who stumbles along, trying to do it on my own, keep stumbling and lean when you need to. It’s a wonderful surprise to find that there’s always someone there ready to hold you and hold you up.

  2. jzshipp
    July 2, 2012

    Thank you for sharing! I’m so glad to hear the quote spoke to you and that you used it on Sunday. Being surrounded by a faith community is such a wonderful and delightful blessing.

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This entry was posted on June 3, 2012 by in Favorite Posts, Spiritual Journey and tagged , , , , , .

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