We work hard to be a safe, brave, and gracious community. A safe community is vital. People matter to us, so safety matters. Safe is when children are protected, people are not injured because of our lack of care, our programs are carefully planned, and people are welcomed, honoured, and respected. A trustworthy community is one where everybody’s safety comes before anything else.
Safe is not all we aim for in our community. We want to be brave and gracious too. Brave means we encourage one another to stretch our comfort zone. When we are brave, we can grow. God stretches us. God doesn’t let us stay comfortable with our suffering, failure, and half-hearted dreams. Romans 4:3-5 encourages us that God can use suffering to produce “perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope”. This transformation works when coupled with faith and bravery. God can use our community to grow us. For this, we must be brave.
If we are going to be brave and be stretched, we need a gracious community. Despite our best efforts we disappoint, make mistakes, miss the mark, hurt others. In the ‘Prodigal’ son parable, Jesus had the younger son say this when he was at his worst:
“I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.”Luke 15:18-20
The son knew he was a sinner, knew he was not worthy. These are shameful admissions. Yet, the son knew he could come home. He knew he had a gracious father who would accept him back, even if only as a hired servant. We all need communities where we know whatever mess we might make in our lives; we can always come home. Without grace, we will never feel truly safe, and we can never be brave.
Safe, brave and gracious – it is the community God grows us in. It is a community that makes conscious and consistent choices to embrace these characteristics. Will you join us in making that effort?