Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith.
But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.
As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.
And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to the promise.
This is describing the unity of all believers - and that we are all loved by God. Equally. What I noticed this morning was the word - belong. In some sense I think the idea of "unity" is almost an intellectual idea. But the word "Belong" seems to touch something deeper in me. More than an abstract idea - but a heart and soul felt experience. I belong to Christ. There is a place for me here and I am more than a welcomed guest- I am a part of the family.
Sometimes I am made aware of how much my life has been a search for belonging. Whether it was in grade school - wanting to be part of a group of friends where I belonged, or wanting to be in a relationship where I belonged with someone, or finding a career and colleagues and church where I belonged. I know that not everyone is like me - but that has underneath everything been an important thread in my life. Finding belonging.
And so these words from Paul speak to a deep longing in me. This morning I was reading The Grace in Living (Kathleen Dowling Singh) who writes about the spiritual journey. She quotes a poem from William Blake
And we are put on earth
a little space,
to learn to bear
the beams of love.
She writes "the spiritual journey goes from love to love." This really struck me because I have frequently said that to people who were dying. There have been times that person is surrounded by family and I assure them that we go "from love (on earth) to love (in heaven)". But today I pondered that we come from love to love. In other words, as we experience that we belong to Christ we begin to recognize what Thomas Merton calls "the deep secret pull of the gravitation of love."
And so this Advent season, my prayer is for deeper awareness of belonging to the one who formed us in love and created us for love. And in that precious identity we can only accept everyone else just as they are.
A Blessing for today
May you be blessed by the God of LOVE whose greatest desire is to be one with you.
May you draw close and know the thrill of God;s beating heart against your own.
May this Lover God be a listening presence in every word and thought and experience of your existence.
may the fire and passion of God's love for you move you to be a compassionate and loving presence to all you meet.
May the God of LOVE be with you.