Updated: Sep 5, 2019
This Sunday, we heard about how encouraging as a faith practice is rooted in coeur , the heart. Encouragement in this sense is more than just cheering someone on, rather it the practice of seeing the image of God in each person and sharing God’s peace and wholeness. In a world full of divisions, encouragement is part of living in unity as a witness to the Gospel.
Another way to think about encouragement is in the practice of showing up. There are three main ways that we can “show up” and the church is at its best when we strive to do all three. The first way we can practice showing up is simply “showing up.” Your presence in our community is important. You do not get the opportunity to encourage others or to be encouraged if you are not present. Being truly present in our community means more than showing up for worship, but engaging in the many opportunities to be part of our community and get to know people such as Bible studies, campfires, potlucks and more. Being present also includes being available when people need you, responding to messages and staying connected to what is going on in the congregation. The next part of showing up goes a little deeper - it goes beyond presence but being purposeful in participation and paying attention to those around you. When we show up in this sense, we are fully present in the moment. We look for those who are hurting, those who are joyful and offer comfort or rejoice with them. We seek to connect others to the peace and wholeness we have found in Christ. We look for others’ needs and preferences and put those ahead of our own, seeking to be as Christ to each other. The third way of showing us is perhaps the hardest - showing up as your true self. Many of us have many layers to who we are. We often have a “work self” and “family self” and “church self.” We have learned in all these areas what is safe to share and open up about. Many of us were taught to shrug off what is bothering us, believing that others won’t care or understand. Or we have learned that when we share who we truly are and what we deeply care about, that will cause others to reject us. This deepest way of showing up is to let every part of yourself be present, to share what is deeply important to you and to let others love you. Learning to trust each other and be vulnerable takes time and intentional effort, but the rewards are huge. As we seek to practice encouragement, we pray that God will continue to shape us into a community, that we might reflect that unity of the Father and the Son and that we can become a place where all people can know that they are loved no matter what. In the abiding hope of the Risen Lord, Pastor Lecia