Devotions / Apr 26, 2017
I’m a New Soul
By Connor Kenaston
“I’m a new soul / I came to this strange world / Hoping I could learn a bit ‘bout how to give and take.”
I took a course on Methodist history and doctrine as a senior in college. As part of the course, we were required to meet in small groups every week to ask each other, “How is it with your soul?” It’s a traditional question that early members of the Methodist movement would ask each other in their band and class meetings, and I found it remarkably refreshing to share intimately about my faith journey.
“But since I came here / Felt the joy and the fear / Finding myself making every possible mistake.”
I generally try to hide my shortcomings and fears so sharing about the deepest part of myself forces me to be vulnerable. I have to trust the other members of the group to hear and not judge, to hold my words in confidence, and to pray for me. I also have to practice patience so that I actively listen to the other person’s response.
I’ve continued this practice of asking, “How is with your soul?” since graduating. Last year, I asked this question every week with my intentional community. I also had long-distance prayer partners who I shared with monthly over Google Hangout. In both cases, asking about our souls connected three very different people in totally new, wonderful ways.
“But why all this hate? / Try to communicate / Finding trust and love is not always easy to make.”
Working on issues related to racial justice in Missouri has also highlighted the importance of moving beyond surface-level interactions with people of different races. Honestly, sometimes surface-level interactions can be harmful because they lead to comfortability and satisfaction without ever listening to the other person in a meaningful way. These practices have helped me become more comfortable opening up to others and having them open up to me in return.
“They shared food with gladness and simplicity. They praised God and demonstrated God’s goodness to everyone. The Lord added daily to the community those who were being saved.” (Acts 2: 46-47, CEB)
“This is a happy end / Come and give me your hand / I’ll take you far away…”
Ultimately, I think embracing the model for community that we see in Acts 2 represents a glorious future for the church. And when you examine it, Yael Naim’s song “New Soul” is less about selling a MacBook than it is about discarding our expectations and embracing what’s in front of us, and I think this is an important lesson for the church. The future of the church may not be filled with buildings, programming, or cultural capital, but it will be filled with people, relationships, and grace.
Reflection Question: When was the last time you were truly open and vulnerable with someone? How can you better hear someone else?