Our recent move from Kwajalein has stirred a lot of things in my life and I have been so busy in the transition that I haven’t had much time to write or to share what has been stirred up by the move. One of the things that has been stirring has been a broader understanding of the classic Christian understanding of the communion of saints.
I have most often thought of the communion of saints in regards to the dead and not the living. Perhaps this is because All Saints Sunday is the time of year when we remember those who have died in the faith; we hear the promise resurrection and honor both the people and the promise. It is a wonderful Sunday and one I am thankful for each year. The only downside, if there is one is that perhaps it has limited my thinking of what the communion of saints means. Truth be told that really isn’t the fault of the festival Sunday, just my own ignorance.
What the move has done is to show me how I have been and am in communion with the saints in each and every place I have served. I remember how when I moved to Kwajalein I ached for the people back in the States who I grew to know and love and wished they could have been with us on this new journey. The same has been true of this move. I have and still do ache for the communion of the people we grew to know and love while serving at Island Memorial Chapel. At the same time I have found my heart opening for the saints who are part of Peninsula Lutheran Church. They are all part of the communion of saints.
I am in fact in communion with both sets of people because we are all in Christ and have been reborn by the Spirit and call God our Father. My missing them doesn’t impact the fact that we are in communion and when I look it that way I realize that the communion of saints is broad, deep and eternal. It really highlights that communion with Christ and each other is central to the nature of what life is about and it is something we should be striving for. The realization of the communion of saints is why the early church called each other “brother” and “sister”. It is why they shared their time, prayer life and possessions. They realized that they had an eternal bond through Christ as a gift from the Spirit to the glory of the Father.
In a broken and fractured society where individuals and individualism reigns the recovery of communion and community is central to the healing of relationships and spiritual growth. I think this is why Jesus prayed “that they may all be one” (John 17:20).