I love this affirmation of faith from the Uniting Church in Australia. Sometimes, I invite people to speak it aloud collectively in worship:
We are all held in the hollow of God’s hand,
loved children of the universe,
born from the life which flows from God,
freed to the fullness of God’s creation,
with all its beauty and variety.
We are all worth dying for in Christ Jesus,
all called to risen life in Christ’s rising.
The way of Jesus gives us footprints for our following,
and our trials and longings are known
in the frailty of Christ’s birth among us
and the courage of Christ’s walking with us.
We are called to new things in the Spirit,
in the hope that stirs in unlikely moments,
the home we find in the wastelands of our wanderings,
the warmth we touch in the coldness of our need,
the opening of our hearts to adventures in belonging
and in the gathering in of those without a home.
I love every word of this affirmation of faith. But I always feel a special burst of energy toward the end. After speaking such powerful words about love, I feel especially energized when I say, “opening our hearts to adventures in belonging. . .”
A person I know said something quite wise recently, and I am taking it to heart: Love always involves learning. If we commit ourselves to love people, that necessarily requires our lives to be shaped and changed by those very people. Loving always involves openness and willingness to being taught, so that we grow and ultimately change.
Theologian and poet Pádraig Ó Tuama says something similar:
“Belonging creates and undoes us both.”
In this affirmation of faith, the fuller phrase is this: “the opening of our hearts to adventures in belonging and the gathering in of those without a home.”
To be without a home. . . This can mean many things and represent a variety of painful experiences. But it often speaks to the experience of being cast out in one way or another, either from physical homes or entire communities of belonging.
If we are to love. . . we are to learn.
If we are to learn. . . we are to grow.
If we are to grow. . . we are to change.
We are to commit to the “gathering in of those without a home.”