By Becky Ullom Naugle
“So we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another” (Romans 12:5).
After so much pandemic living and the isolation it’s caused, the centrality of community in this scripture compelled the Young Adult Steering Committee to choose Romans 12:5 as the theme for National Young Adult Conference (NYAC) 2022.
Christians spend significant time focusing on the verses before and after this one–reminding ourselves that there are “many gifts but the same Spirit.” The reality of variety in giftedness certainly deserves attention and study; it is occasionally challenging to recognize and identify God’s presence in another. However, as the world has learned so painfully over the last two years in our isolation, God built us to need each other.
Even if we chafe at standards and boundaries placed to enable peaceful, healthy living, humans have a deep and strong desire to be with others. We are undeniably affected by the relationships we create. Simply, we are affected by our community. Often the implications of this reality are seen as a liability. However, NYAC participants will focus on the ways this reality is an asset. How are we as individuals enriched by being part of a community? How is life better when we are together, rather than apart? If we felt empathy for others due to such a deep connection through our baptism into the family of Jesus and call to live as one of his disciples, what would our lives look like?
It is precisely such deep connection to a group that allows an aspen tree to live. From above ground, where we spend most of our time, we see distinct trees. If we are paying enough attention, we might note that aspen trees tend to grow in groups. But did you know that the “distinct” aspen trees are actually part of the same organism? They share a root system and resources like water and nutrients. Aspens are a living expression of Romans 12:5; the “individual” thrives due to their deep connection to the larger body.
After so much time away from the larger body, the Young Adult Steering Committee is eager for young adults to remember and strengthen connection to each other.
NYAC registration opens online on Jan. 6, 2022. To learn more, visit www.brethren.org/yac.
— Becky Ullom Naugle is director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries for the Church of the Brethren.
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