Living the “Beloved Community”

by BarbaraJean Havens, Eastern Area Coordinator

How do we know we are living in a beloved community?  I have enough faith to believe and accept that God loves us, but what does that love look like, or feel like?  I want to believe that as the Body of Christ, the Church has the responsibility to make this palpable to its members.  I have seen the beloved community at work several times in my life, when it became so apparent that even I could not miss it.

Once, not too long ago, when a member of our community was faced with some insurmountable financial obstacles to their well-being, it only took one email to all the Eastern Area Churches, and donations began pouring in to this person.  Even the smallest and the poorest of our churches gave a portion to help.  The amount needed was exceeded and that is fine, because that is the way God answers prayer.  God always gives more than we could ever imagine.

Another time, that really stands out in my mind, happened many years ago, when my daughter was born.  She needed several surgeries just to survive in her first days of life, and needless to say, my husband and I were at her side for 6 weeks in the Neo-natal ICU at Children’s Hospital.  We would go to the chapel and pray for long stretches.  We had three other children at home, who needed daily care and shuttling, meals, and comforting.  This was all provided without my asking by the people of Christ Presbyterian Church, our beloved community.  That time was all such a blur in my mind, but I remember that we never had to worry about anything because we had a network of community that was there for us. And they have continued to be there for each other over these many years.

Giving is such an integral part of loving.  I believe we have the responsibility, as members of His Body, to live below our means.  If we live as persons truly concerned for each other, we will set aside a percentage of our income to share with those who have less.  I believe that God does not intend for some to live in luxury while others do not have basic needs. Money is not the only way of giving, but it is one of the most needed resources for those without. Where there is need, the Body is there to fill it.  The gratitude I feel to God, to the colleagues I work with, and those I minister to overwhelms me because I do know what it feels like to live in the Beloved Community!