For a long while now, I have been developing, attending to, nurturing, re-developing, and maintaining a number of spiritual practices. Sometimes, they are rather “usual” practices — prayer, readings, Scripture, journaling, spiritual direction, more prayer. Sometimes, I find something that I might not have previously identified as a spiritual practice, only to discern that it could be that for me. The other day, one of my morning devotional readings suggested “belonging” could become a spiritual practice.

I know, belonging isn’t something that many people seem to value these days – many organizations are finding their numbers dwindling because people are not “joiners” anymore. Many of our churches are also finding that people are less willing to join, to become a part of their community, to belong as in years past. I’m not suggesting that people belong to something simply for the sake of boosting the membership of the Kiwanis or the Moose Lodge or even the Church. Nor am I suggesting that we refer to our congregations and ministries as “families” to which we belong. That sort of belonging usually involves delineating who’s in, and who’s out.

The kind of belonging I’m wondering about is that which is additive to our lives, to our faith, to our awareness of God’s presence coming near to us. The kind of belonging that celebrates the unity and diversity of The Trinity, and seeks to live that out in our world, here, now. The kind of belonging that doesn’t count as loss what might be given up in choosing to commit to something beyond ourselves, but revels in what is added to our lives by doing so. The kind of belonging that God offers to us in Christ, by choosing to become human for all, and for all time to invite us to belong to Christ, and each other.

Blessings as we seek and serve together as the Sierra Pacific Synod and The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to be Christ for the sake of the world.

Bp. Mark