Traveling to a new place can be a great adventure. The most venturous are more than willing to take even an unmarked road if they feel it holds the possibility of new knowledge or experience.

But even the most foolhardy traveler wants to believe they can find their way to a familiar path if they come to fear they might be lost.

Christians who are on the way know they have an ever-present companion in the journey, a shepherd always there to guide.

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They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.

Acts 2:42–45

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We are cautious—even downright suspicious—of belonging; despite what we say, many of us prefer to assert our individuality and do things in our own way.

Belonging carries expectations about what it means to be in relationship. It asks us to do more than simply show up. It calls us to make commitments, to share our vulnerabilities, and to sacrifice our inherent self-centeredness for the good of others.

The early church focused on four essentials: teaching, building relationships, eating meals together, and prayer. That required intentionality, shared values and, dare I say it, commitment to one another. It’s one thing to be a church member; it’s another to belong so completely  that you willingly devote yourself, your time, your talents, and your prayers to those with whom you are in community.

Christine Vogel

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God of Wonder, I am awed by your power. Make me an instrument of your grace. Focus my life on the wonder of your love that I might use it to build beloved community. Amen.

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When my paper heart’s in a frantic wind
And I fear I'm all alone,
My whisper is heard when I call out to him
And I follow the shepherd home.

All the burdens weighing on my back
Aren't so heavy after all.
Faith is knowing you need only ask.
You can follow the shepherd home.
You can follow the shepherd home.

From "Follow the Shepherd Home" by Mindy Smith

Christine Vogel

Christine Vogel is an ordained teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA). She has been a parish pastor, a college chaplain and, most recently, the dean of students at McCormick Theological Seminary. She is currently completing a course of studies to be certified as a spiritual director. She lives in Chicago with her husband, Paul.

How Great Thou Art

Clay Mottley

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