Tuesday, December 18

advent 2007

“Congregation Arise” implies a characteristic of a certain group of believers, reflecting their pilgrimage as unified Christians at a certain geographic location. But for me the term is more encompassing. It can also refer to an individual’s pilgrimage as he or she moves through life as a part of multiple congregations.

Each congregation we encounter has an influence on our lives. It could be tritely stated that those influences could be for good or bad, but I do not buy that viewpoint. I prefer to think that each congregation we encounter equips us for different aspects of our life. Some teach us to be comfortable in our surroundings through the nurturing and personal care and contacts provided by others. Other congregations teach us cooperation and fellowship, exposing us to viewpoints somewhat different from our own. Yet other congregations teach us the beauty and growth experience of true diversity, making our Christian journey richer and broader.

I have had the privilege of experiencing each of these three stages as I moved from one congregation to another, the result of growing up within a single group of Christians, then encountering other congregations by leaving home to go to college, then moving to a far city to live out my professional career. Some people are fortunate in being able to experience all three stages within a single congregation. Yet I would not trade my own journey for theirs.

As we traverse this Advent season, let us ponder our individual journeys, remembering the qualities of congregational life encountered on our journey. And let us vow to utilize and share what we have learned, all the while keeping ourselves open to receive the lessons others are willing to share with us.
– Milton Newton

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