We Gather for Peace
Why do we need to gather together in community? Have you ever thought about it? Seriously, why?
To gather in community is not something that only Christians do. People from all kinds of religions meet together. Non-religious people gather in community, why? What is it about gathering together that we feel the necessity to do so?
I think within us there is a deep need to belong and connect. We want to be known. All of us want to know who “our people” are.
In the ancient Scriptures there are a group of songs called “The Songs of Ascent.” They are songs that the people of God would sing on their way up to worship at the Temple in Jerusalem.
In these songs we begin to grasp some ideas about why they gathered. More importantly, we can see ourselves in these songs and try to understand why we need to gather in community.
Psalm 120 is the first of these songs.
The song closes like this,
Oh, I’m doomed because I have been an immigrant in Meshech, because I’ve made my home among Kedar’s tents. I’ve lived far too long with people who hate peace. I’m for peace, but when I speak, they are for war.
As they began their ascent they were deeply aware of the reality that they were not at home away from the Temple. They saw in their culture something counter to their heart. They desired peace but their world desired war. Living there was pulling them from peace and drawing them into war.
Is that not the same as us? Everything around us is outrage and conflict. You can't go anywhere to escape the yelling, the screaming, the never ending rage.
We gather in community to connect with a people who also are for peace. When we gather we are reminded that we are not alone in this world. There are others who want peace and not war.
Even though it feels like we are alone, we aren't. We are not doomed. There is a people who are like us and so we gather. In the gathering of community we find peace and connection and most importantly, we find hope.
Who is your community? When do you gather? How do you pursue peace with them?