As this year is ending, it might be helpful for us to take stock of what we have learned about ourselves as we’ve experienced the challenges and the joys of being the church together.  During the “Liberating Structures” process to re-imagine the organization of our ministries, the Council recently identified five “values” they believe sit at the core of our church identity, driving our understanding of the mission of the church.  This week’s devotions will focus on one of these identified values each day.

“On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” John 14:20

We begin this exploration with “relationship.”  It’s hardly a stretch to imagine a church would hold this as a value for how could the church even exist if it weren’t for a desire to be in communion with others?  Creating opportunity for God’s people to find each other is undoubtedly central to the function of what we do. 

But there is no shortage of places to find relationship in this world – schools, workplaces, gyms, dating apps, softball leagues, dog obedience classes, wine tastings, volunteering at the food shelf, and on and on.  What’s so special, then, about a church that values relationship?  How might Prince of Peace be different than all those other places?

One important difference for Prince of Peace and how we value relationship is posted on the sign at the base of our driveway.  “All are welcome!”  This is more than just a friendly greeting and a nod towards hospitality.  This is a theological claim.  Because God has chosen you, this church exists to provide a place where a sense of belonging is a lived experience, no matter your particular story. 

We all have multiple reasons to believe we don’t belong but here we are.  Too many of our neighbors are left wondering if they’re smart enough, rich enough, white enough, straight enough, gifted enough, interesting enough, healthy enough, saintly enough.   How could we reassure them that these aren’t criteria that matter in this place?  How might we be a place of welcome truly for all?

As you go about today, consider how you might also value relationship and how this community of faith is helping (or hindering) your ability to experience true belonging.  Let’s wonder too how our neighbors might experience the welcome we offer to be in relationship with God and with us.

May God’s peace come to you this day. -Pastor Peter

Let us pray… We long to be known.  We wish to belong.  We hope for love.  Give us the courage to welcome others in the same way that you have welcomed us.  Make your blessings plain in the relationships we build for the sake of your vision for the world.  Amen.