The experience of spiritual communion is transformational. Whenever people come together, meaningful connections can be shared, and these interactions build resilience within individuals and communities.
The etymology of the word “fraternity” goes back more than 800 years. It means companionship and refers to people who share with each other. At a recent one-day convention for women, I both witnessed and felt a multi-generational communion. The day was lively and full of hope. During the shared meal, worship service, and Bible study, I noticed the satisfied smiles of the women who really enjoyed being in each other’s presence.
Spiritual communion can occur through retreats, meditation circles, worship services, book studies, conversation groups and prayer circles. These social bonds, rooted in spirituality, have the ability to enhance overall well-being.
Members of a rural congregation in the Root River Valley taught me more about fellowship after worship ended on a recent Sunday. I shook hands and greeted the people at the back of the shrine. As the line thinned, I noticed a group of warm, friendly people lingering in the aisle. In unison, they described that they are always the last to leave because they love being together so much. After worship they usually go to lunch and they also sing together in a music band.
These dear people reminded me again of the impact of spiritual communion. It’s not that all of their conversations are about theology or that they spend every second studying the Bible. Instead, they are people who care about each other and are invested in each other’s well-being. They live in interdependence.
The biblical book of Acts in the New Testament tells how the message of Jesus first spread. In Acts, chapter 2, verse 42, we read some of the early commitments of Christians, and they include intentionally spending time together. Luke (the author of Acts) writes: “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Koinonia (Coin-o-knee-a) is the Greek word originally used in this verse which we often translate into English as “brotherhood”. Koinonia was a key priority from the very beginning of the spread of Christianity. Although much has changed in our lives and in the world since that time, our human need for meaningful connection remains paramount.
A Prayer for Communion: Creator of Koinonia, we thank you for the ability to connect with other people. We pray that you will inspire all congregations and spiritual communities to nurture safe environments for fellowship. Grant us the courage to show ourselves in these spaces as ourselves. Reveal to us the blessings that come from giving and receiving care. Amen.
“Holy Everything” is a weekly column by Emily Carson. She is a Lutheran pastor. Visit his website