Continuing with our series on balances that are achieved in our faith, today I want to reflect on the balance struck between personal and communal faith. On the surface, this might sound very similar to what I wrote about two weeks ago, the inward-outward parts of our faith. But that article focused on the missional aspect of our faith vs. the devotional part of our faith. This is altogether different.
When you look at our hymnbook, something interesting takes shape. Many of the songs we sing in worship together are personal songs. They are hymns that speak about individual faith: “I was sinking, lost in sin…” or “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.” These songs speak to the aspect of our faith that is very personal.
The story of our spiritual lives and our spiritual journey is one that is unique to each one of us individually, and each of our stories requires introspection and prayer in order to be maintained. And how we do that will be unique to us. But we are never in a faith that is purely personal.
Our worship on Sundays is not one of a collection of individuals who happen to share space. Our faith is balanced by a side that is communal. The communal aspect of our faith is our care for others in the faith community; it is the unique sense of community that happens when the people lift up prayers and songs together to God; it is the shared experience of hearing the word together in worship.
Finally, it is the choice to build and maintain relationships with people, not because we want to or because people look and act like us, but because God has planted us in a community, and called us to be a part of the family of faith.
And so, like the other balances we have talked about, we must find the balance between personal faith and communal faith. We must invest in the personal side of our faith, because that energizes our sense of community. We also must invest in communal life, because that gives hope and meaning to our personal story.
So this morning as we worship, pay attention to the aspects of worship that are personal, and the parts that are communal. And as you do, I am confident that you will see the importance of valuing and balancing both.