In the Dominican Republic, where I lived for four years, a popular insult I heard people use with each other was comesolo, that is, “one who eats alone.” Dominican culture is profoundly relational – – people define themselves not by what they do or where they live, but by who they are related to and who they know. And so it is unusual for Dominican people to eat by themselves, instead of at a table in community with other people. A comesolo might be thought of as someone who snubs community in favor of going it alone, someone who values their own thoughts and opinions more than they value fellowship with other people.
Much like my dear Dominican friends, the church holds community as a central value. We are not a collection of comesolos pushing to do things our own way. Rather, we are a communion of believers, siblings in Christ, children of God sitting elbow to elbow at the feast of our Lord. We choose relationship, knowing that it will make us grow and learn, knowing that we were made for life together.
This is why, for the ELCA, a crucial part of preparing leaders for rostered ministry is the internship component of seminary education. There is so much a fledgling church leader simply cannot learn outside the context of a congregational community. That’s the reason I will be spending the next year here in the community of Peace Lutheran. I have already spent three years learning theology, history, pastoral care, preaching, liturgy, and so on in the classroom, but now comes one of the most important learnings of all: learning how this all fits together in a community of God’s faithful ones. For the coming year, this congregation will be my classroom, and you all will be my teachers. I look forward to learning from you, and I pray that my presence among you will be a blessing to you all as well. Come; let us feast together on the goodness of our God!
Vicar Day Hefner