Growing in Community at St. Paul's
By the Rev. Laura Di Panfilo
In the Godly Play lesson for the Parable of the Mustard Seed, we hear the story of a small seed that grows into a shrub so big that birds make their nest in it. At the end of telling the story, we are invited to sit with several wondering questions together. One of these questions asks, “I wonder if the seed was happy while it was growing?”
I was very moved by this question. So often we think about spiritual growth as this heavy and serious thing, and to be fair, sometimes it is! But many times spiritual growth is accompanied by happiness and joy. I think part of this joy comes from community. Jesus could have told us all to always pray and worship God alone, and yet he brought together his disciples in what was the first Christian community. This is not an accident! From the very beginning, Jesus knew that the life of faith is a lot easier when we do it with other people. Our time together can be a source of great joy!
At St. Paul’s we offer many opportunities to grow our faith as a community. This fall we have a spiritual walking group, small groups, and a class on learning to pray, among many other opportunities. While we hope you will gain new insights from the materials presented, we also hope that the new relationships you form will be just as spiritually nourishing. In some of our small groups we often joke about how we meet to discuss the book, and actually never get to talking about the book in our weekly meetings. This is totally fine! Because the time is spent talking about our lives and things that matter to us, and help us get to know one another better. I was talking to one Sunday school teacher recently who shared that their class really rallied behind a child who was having a tough time in school, and this teacher was proud of the way their Sunday school class was able to be there to support this child. Did the class get through the entire lesson on Noah’s Ark that day? Not exactly. But was a child of God loved by their community? Absolutely!
When we ask ourselves if we are happy while we are growing, I hope that the answer for most members at St. Paul’s is a resounding “yes!” The community fostered here is what being a child of God is all about: growing in knowledge and love of God, in the context of a nurturing and loving community. Whether it is attending an adult forum or catching up with someone over a cup of coffee at coffee hour, I hope you will join us at St. Paul’s this year. There are many offerings ranging from Sunday School, Youth Group, Small Groups, and more. Your presence makes this community better and helps us learn about God in new ways. I wonder how you might be happy while you are growing?
The Reverend Laura Di Panfilo, Associate Rector