It is primary day here in NC and I just returned from casting my vote! Some years I am passionate about the person I am voting for and some years I seem to be choosing the lesser of multiple evils. Either way, it is important for me to vote because it connects me with my community, both local and national. I vote because I am a member of the great American family and there is no THEY deciding who runs things and how they are run, it is US who collectively make those decisions. Even when things don’t turn out how I would have wanted, I was still a part of the process and I will have to put some faith in the collective wisdom of my societal family to which I BELONG.
In the Church, a sense of belonging is fostered when people feel they have a say in the direction of their community. When talking to parishes about long-range planning, I always explain to them how important it is to provide every opportunity for people to share their thoughts, hopes, and dreams. Also, when we provide avenues for people to give of their gifts and talents for the benefit of the community we foster in them a sense of ownership in their parish. They should see the parish as somewhere they BELONG, not a place they go to on a Sunday.
During this election season, it is a good time to reflect on the ways we encourage people to be a part of US and the barriers we put up that lead people to only see the parish as THEY. Our parishes are not places to visit. They are places we should call home. For home is where we BELONG.