Why I’m Home in Community of Christ

29 06 2012

BY KRIS JUDD, president of seventy

Youth at the 2010 World Conference check an image of Zion.

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t dream of a better world. Don’t get me wrong. I was raised in a loving home, given a strong faith foundation, had my basic needs met, did well in school, enjoyed friends and family, and have experienced a good life by most—if not all—standards.

Yet from an early age I was aware something better called to me, something I hoped for, waited for, even longed for.
My grandmother, Ella Phillips, was a lifelong church member, and she gave language to the longing I felt. She called it “Zion,” and she shared with me hymns and stories that built her faith, gave her strength, and painted a picture of what God’s hope for creation could and should be. She often said she hoped to live long enough to “see Zion built.” I hope she caught glimpses of it during her 93 years.

For many years in the church, it seemed the dream of “Zion,” or the peaceable kingdom on Earth, had faded from our collective memory, or at least our collective conversation. As we struggled with our identity and message, we seemed to lose sight of that initial calling and purpose. We didn’t get caught up in issues of the afterlife or what awaited us in heaven. It seemed to me that we simply stopped dreaming.

I don’t remember the first time I heard the word “Zion” again, but I remember my reaction. I suddenly felt I had come home, even though I had not left. We were returning to the dream we had received long ago, but with new language, updated understandings, and a greater awareness of the urgent need for the global reign of God.

As an organization, it was as if we had emerged from our institutional teenage years, with our embarrassment of being seen with our parents in public. We were growing up and growing into the people we were born to be, becoming the movement we were created to become.

We were coming home, but with clearer vision and greater depth.

I was born an idealist and a dreamer and never have felt really at home in the world. Though a dreamer, I’m not naive to the realities of life for people around the world. I’m not blind to the violence, oppression, poverty, and devaluing of life in all forms that too often pervades our news, our views, and our communities.

But in Community of Christ, we sing a different, more hopeful verse to the Christian song. We sing of community, of peace, of hope, and of the kingdom here and now. We sing of “bringing forth the kingdom of heaven,” “Zion the beautiful.” I love this church for many reasons. I’m at home in this worldwide body of people who believe in an alternate reality, an idealistic dream of what God longs for and what we yearn for.

I can’t imagine singing, dreaming, or sharing in any other community of believers. I thank God I’ve found home!



6 responses

10 07 2012
on “The Supreme Being” (and dreams of isolation) « power of language blog: partnering with reality by JR Fibonacci

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5 07 2012
Lois Buchanan

Yes really such a beautiful testimony of our faith & the blessings of following what we have been taught and now live. Through the years we have all experienced many trials , but know that God is always with us and will grab our hand when we turn to Him. So happy to read your article Kris.

5 07 2012

Thank you for putting some of my thoughts/concerns into words. One of the saddest days of my church life was when I was teaching a group of children in a large congregation (my own included), and I realized that none of them had heard the term “Zion.” I’m thankful for the updated thoughts about Zion, but it is a concept that we need to keep pursuing.

29 06 2012
Joy Dawson

I was so grateful to read your article. I am an older lady, now ordained and I do dream of the same things and having a Zion in the future. To me, it is a reality—I know it will be one day. Thank you for reminding us all why we are the church we are.

29 06 2012
Olive Oesch

Hi Kris, We in the Tavares congregation in the Fla mission center, used your article as class for adult Sunday school , we talked about who we were and where we were when we heard about this faith. We shared openly and honestly for our hour of class. Thanks for your honesty and good spirit in this article you shared with us. Olive Oesch, Tavares, Fl. congregation

29 06 2012
William RAISER

Good to read your comments, Kris. I’ll celebrate the day when we mean by “zion” a community, people living, working, governing, learning, eating and worshiping together, rather than meeting and worshiping together in congregations. We’ve revived the word and largely ignored the meaning of the word.

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