No matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, You Are Welcome Here.

Authentic Spiritual Community

Posted on 02 Oct 2022

October 2, 2022

John 15:9-14

1 Corinthians 12:12-14

Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman


For thirty years, Lucy had attended First Community Church. She had begun attending the church when her children were little. As her children grew up and moved away, she still faithfully attended worship most Sundays. She had served on various committees throughout the years and even begun the prayer shawl ministry. She looked forward to the annual women’s retreat and had even attended a wider church gathering for women’s fellowship. She volunteered with the church thrift shop and on occasion read scripture in worship.

If asked, Lucy would have said that her church was very important to her, that her church was friendly, like a family, and that she knew that if things got really bad in her life, it was a place where she could tell someone about it.

Things had been bad in her life though. In those thirty years of church membership, Lucy had been through times of great hardship: in the middle of her divorce, ending a 17 year marriage, she had been diagnosed with cancer. And then there had been the time when her mother and aunt had died within six months of each other and her eldest son had been in a serious car accident three months after that. And throughout those hard times, she had struggled with depression and loneliness.

In her thirty years of attending First Community Church, there had definitely been times when Lucy had needed to unburden her soul, when she had needed a place to cry and be cared for as well as prayed for and with. And yet, she never said a word to anyone in her church family.


This is just a story; however I wonder if there are parts of it that resonate with you. Despite attending worship week after week, year after year, do you still feel at times like you don’t know anyone or that no one really knows you? Have you served on different church committees, planning events and programs, never saying a word about the tough times you are going through?


Many churches say they are friendly, like a family. Many churches are more like a community of worker bees though than a community of friends; united in maintaining the institution, the building, the traditions, rather than being united in love as Christ’s body.

The Church was not created to be an institution though. The Church does not exist to maintain certain traditions or organizational structures either. The Church was and is a community of Christ’s friends, keeping his commandment of love. The Church was and is the body of Christ, many members though one, coming together with our unique life experiences and gifts to be of one Spirit and one heart, giving glory to God.

According to Martha Grace Reese, the Church “should feel like coming home…; [like] being able to say anything that pops into your mind because you’re hanging out with people you can trust with your life, … That’s what being a Christian ought to feel like, a powerful individual on a powerful team: a life with no posturing, no pretending. That’s the real real life!” (Unbinding the Gospel, Reese, 58)

Church, Christian community, should be the most real, real there is. (Unbinding the Gospel, Reese, 57) It should be the place where you can question; where you can cry; where you can wonder; where you can be angry at God and life; where you can celebrate and rejoice; where you can be vulnerable. Christian community should be the place where you can be your most authentic self and know you will be honored and cared for.


The 275th anniversary team, the fellowship committee, Women’s Guild and Men’s Fellowship all work hard to actively create community. They offer coffee and conversation after in person worship. They host picnic lunches and zoom breakfasts; hayride dinners and game nights. There are some hard working people in this church community, creating opportunities for all of us to come together in relationship, in real, authentic relationship.

Real Christian community, authentic spiritual community, being one in Spirit and one in Christ’s love takes more than great events though. Authentic Christian community is only possible when we are each willing to share ourselves, to share our stories, to share our joys, our questions, our hurts and challenges, to pray with and for each other. Only when we actively make real real connections with one another can we build an authentic community of God’s peace and love.

The thought of authentic Christian spiritual community both scares and excites me. Scares me because being vulnerable is hard. Being spiritually authentic means I need to tell you what my relationship with Jesus really means to me. It means I might need to also tell you about why I need Jesus, my worries, my flaws, my insecurities, and that also means I might be rejected or hurt, which is scary.

And being spiritually authentic is also exciting because I know this is what God wants for each of us – to belong to a community that loves us and accepts us for who we are, where we can be comforted and supported, and also nurtured and inspired to be our very best, most loving selves.


Today is World Communion Sunday, a day when we acknowledge that we join Christians all over the world at Christ’s table. The word communion comes from the Latin word “communi”, which means sharing or sharing in common. The “ion” suffix on the end signifies action. Simply put, communion means actively sharing, actively making connections, actively creating community.

When Jesus invites us to eat, to share, to “communi” at his table, he is inviting us to actively make connections with God and with each other. In this holy meal, Jesus is inviting us to create community, authentic community, grounded in God’s spirit, nurtured by Christ’s love.

As we share in this communion meal, I hope you will look around the Sanctuary, look around Facebook, look around Youtube, look through the church directory and seek someone out. Seek someone out and ask them some of their real story, tell them some of your real story, be fearlessly authentic with one another, sharing a hope, a prayer need, a wondering you have about life or faith.

Story by story, real connection by real connection, we actively create Christ’s community and become God’s authentic spiritual community of peace and love, truly the body of Christ here on earth.