Hope can be hard to come by these days. Anxiety, frustration, anger, doubt – about our selves, our neighbors and our world make it tempting to withdraw, turn inward, and hide.

But while there are times retreat, rest, and renewal are essential for our well-being and for equipping us for the labor of New Life, it is community that will sustain us for the long haul.

Thich Nhat Hanh is quoted as saying, “It is probable that the next Buddha will not take the form of an individual. The next Buddha may take the form of a community, a community practicing understanding and loving kindness, a community practicing mindful living. This may be the most important thing we can do for the survival of the earth.”

This is probably why Jesus told his followers to go out and develop community, create the Body of Christ: community is salve (i.e., a soothing balm for deep wounds) and strength and hope. This week’s Six New Things focus on the hope, strength and belonging we find in community – and the healing that community provides.

ONE

Participate in the community’s salvific work, guided by United Theological Seminary’s list of resources and actions, including opportunities for Prayer/Meditation, Holding Memory, Changing Policies, Impacting Public Discourse, and Engaging Our Emotions.

Use them. Share them. Jump in as the Divine calls.

TWO

Manifest hope through community:

See Jake Owensby’s Looking for God in Messy Places (Abingdon) or Anne Lamott’s Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage (Riverhead); include the Littles with What Do I Do with Worry? (B&H) and/or:

The Ministry Lab has partnered with the MN Annual Conference UMC in creating Building Beloved Community, a nine-week video series of personal reflections shared by a diverse group. Watch and discuss with an openness to hear and understand each person’s heart and story.

THREE

Spread hope by changing your culture: widen the circle of who belongs by actively challenging the perfectionism and exclusivism inherent in white supremacy culture.

Start with Rachel RickettsDo Better: Spiritual Activism for Fighting and Healing from White Supremacy (Atria); grow from there with Patrick B. ReyesThe Purpose Gap: Empowering Communities of Color to Find Meaning and Thrive (WJK).

Celebrate self-determination, perseverance, and differences with Caroline Garnet McGraw‘s You Don’t Owe Anyone: Free Yourself from the Weight of Expectations (Broadleaf) and Bear’s Bicycle (Beaming).

FIVE

Broaden belonging by counteracting the male dominance and hierarchy of  white supremacy culture, embracing and empowering people of all gender and sexual identities with Made, Known, Loved: Developing LGBTQ Inclusive Ministry (Fortress); Family of Origin, Family of Choice: Stories of Queer Christians (Eerdmans); and The Making of Biblical Womanhood (Baker), which includes a free study guide.

SIX

Include creation in this circle: it’s Earth Day Week, after all!!

Adults might consider Is It Too Late? A Theology of Ecology (Fortress) while young ones could enjoy any number of Illustrated Ministry’s Earth Day resources (25% ’til Thursday!):

Find additional Earth Day resources in our Creation Care for All Ages lib guide and opportunities for creation care in our Climate & Sustainability lib guide and our Community Opportunities page.

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Hope is found in becoming who God created us to be; we are created for one another and for living together in Beloved Community!!