by Charon Hribar
The questions that I heard echoed several times today were – Where is God? and Where do we look for God?
The “answer” that then followed on this Three Kings Sunday was – Emanuel, God is with us. God is in our lives, in the midst of all that we are.
This was the spirit that I sensed emanating from the people whom I met today. From the sermons given by the pastors, to the friendly greetings of welcome we received from local parishioners, to the responses of Cody, a 10 year old boy from Chestnut Ridge whom I interviewed at the World Vision Community Center, God’s presence was real in the lives of the people.
But what does this mean for these people – what does it mean to say that God’s presence is real? What responsibilities were made known in their understanding of God? In Cody’s words, it’s about making the world a better place.
The people that we met in Barbour County today voiced the importance of community living. Pastor Ruston and others expressed the power of being in community and building genuine solidarity with one another in that community. He more specifically spoke to the need for people like us – social workers, ministers, and community leaders – remembering that the experience of living community should be much more a sharing relationship than a serving relationship. What was meant by this is that to work in community we must not come thinking we are here just to help “others,” but rather we must see the need to become a community and to learn that we are helping one another. We must work to build relationships and recognize that we too are getting something back from these relationships. It is about humbling ourselves to move beyond the arrogance of charity and to embrace the possibility of sharing our lives with a community and being changed ourselves.
My question for the day is – what would the world look like if we could learn to really be with one another? How can we begin to engage, listen, and share with one another? How do we move beyond our own assumptions, our own prejudice, our own fears, and our own self-preoccupation to truly be in community? It is in building such community that I believe we will come to understand the spirit of the people whom we met today – to see the presence of God in our relationships, to see God where God is – in the midst of our daily lives, in all that we are.