This post is based on the pastoral exhortation given before the worship service on May 15, 2022 at TPC.
Today's sermon will be based on 2 Corinthians 1:3-11, a passage that focuses on the comfort God gives to his people when they suffer. The text especially emphasizes that this comfort is communal. In my suffering, I become a comfort to other believers, just as other believers become a comfort to me in the midst of their suffering. Community is important for many reasons, but one reason it is important it is because it helps us navigate the challenges of suffering when they arise.
It's graduation season and I've been to two graduations for family members the last two weekends. Watching all those young adults enter into a new phase of life, while reflecting on the phase they had just completed, got me thinking about the high school and college years. Many people would say high school and/or college was the best time of their life. They look back upon that time of life as their "glory days." I don't think that is healthy. Life should only get better after high school and college. But I do think it's worth reflecting on why so many people fixate on that time of life as so enjoyable.
My hunch is that those years are seen as "glory days" for many because it was a time of life when people find their relational and communal needs largely met. Many people find it much more difficult to build and maintain strong friendships after college. Community becomes a struggle. We get more and more isolated as we get older. But it ought not to be this way.
As Christians, we should find ever increasing community in the life of the church. The church is described in the New Testament as the model community. The church is our primary family/household, city, nation, and fellowship.
One of the ways God bonds us together is through common worship. As we sing and pray together, as we hear the Word together, as we feast at the Lord's Table together, God knits us together as one body. The liturgy serves many purposes, but uniting us in a shared faith and a shared story is certainly one of them.
But the liturgy is not only a way of sharing life together; it prepares us to share life together after the liturgy, in the rest of our week. The liturgy trains us sin haring our joys and our sufferings, our victories and our sorrows. The liturgy prepares us to open our homes and tables to one another. Today, as we worship together, ask God to teach you ways you can build community. Your fellow worshippers can become fellow sufferers and fellow rejoicers.