Our son Sebastian was born earlier this week. It is great to finally hold him in our arms, after we’ve been waiting for him for so long. We’re relieved that he has had the care to arrive safely. His brother and sister were excited to touch him for the first time. We have received many messages of congratulations. The news of this birth has been welcomed around the world. From the very first breath he drew, this little boy was already embedded in a whole web of human relationships. And to grow and flourish he will be nurtured by our family, by his relatives, by the church community, the circle of friends of his parents and siblings, and by all the other groups he will come in contact with. He will not be alone. Most of us are born into such a life of social interaction. Indeed, to a certain extent this is what makes us human. It is tragic and sad when the birth of a baby is not celebrated, when there is no community to receive that fledgling life.
Even in later life we are not self-made or self-reliant. We depend on others. We are in community (even such introverts as I am). While to some extent we all need some time alone, some time away from others, if we are continually isolated, we miss out on an important aspect of our humanity.
In our modern connected world, paradoxically it is easier to be alone and separated from each other, even if we are part of networks on the internet and live in a big city. We can live side by side, and yet not know each other. We may pass hundreds or thousands of people each day and yet not have a meaningful word with anyone else.
And so as God calls us into relationship with himself through Jesus, so God also calls us into relationship with each other. Being Christian is not a solitary calling.
God calls us into community. We are not just individuals. We are part of Christ’s body, the Church.