This last weekend was a busy one for the Emmanuel community. On Friday, we came together for a pasta dinner hosted by the Urbanites, our ministry for the young and the young at heart. The following morning, twelve Emmanuelites ran or walked as members of three different relay teams in the Baltimore Running Festival.* I was one of them, and I can testify that it was a rewarding, energizing experience.
Though determined to fulfill the commitment I'd made to participate in the Running Festival, I was also a little wary of spending my Saturday morning weaving my way through closed roads and large crowds, only to then run seven long miles. But somewhere in the midst of all the activity, I realized I was glad to be there. Glad to be with my fellow Emmanuelites. Glad to be participating in this community event. My smile in the photos taken that day is genuine--and not 100% attributable to runner's high.
I wonder now what this gladness says about the nature of Church, the nature of community.
Though I’ve always understood “Church” as a non-location-specific concept—an enactment of Christ’s living body as likely to occur on a street corner or around a table with friends as in a sanctified structure—I still can't help thinking of the primetime for Emmanuel's worship as Sunday morning. Because of a parish internship (part of my ordination process), I have not been able to be present at Emmanuel on Sunday for over a month. In addition to the work I’ve done on the website, I still participate in community events and attend Urbanites meetings when I can; however, none of it is quite equivalent to Sunday services.
Our website states that “there are many ways of being part of Emmanuel." Yet it also says that "worship is the heart of our life as a community.” A copy-editing inconsistency? Maybe. But I’m not going to fix it. What is faith, what is Church, if not full of contradictions?
So, platitudes aside: I suppose my gladness at the Running Festival had to do with a recognition of Emmanuel as a community that can be portable, existing equally on Sunday as on Saturday or any other day of the week. Last weekend, a strange combination of pasta, friendship, relief, and exercise-induced-euphoria brought Emmanuel outside of its sanctuary. Emmanuel means “God is with us,” and I suppose God was.
Thank you to everyone who participates in each and every aspect of this community's life.
--Taylor Daynes, Community Engagement Coordinator
*We even had two Emmanuelites test themselves against the challenge of the full marathon.