Sunday, 7 May 2017

Formation of community

The difficulty we face today is the fact that we have unlimited choice in what we want as individuals.  No one really worries, or dare I say it cares, about your choices so long as they are within the limits of the law.  This may mean that you go off to windsurf and form your community with those who do the same.  Perhaps you enjoy a glass of red and would prefer to do this surrounded by strangers, whom you may eventually get to know in a bar.  No matter what we are doing so long as we are satisfied, then who cares?  The one choice we are perhaps scared to make is a choice with regards our own spiritual journey because as soon as we make a choice in this arena we are pounced on from all and sundry.  The biases of the community to our faith journey is evident in the presumptions.  Your a Christian? those are the ones that go around drinking a persons blood and saying one thing but doing the complete opposite. Like politicians.  or Your a Muslim?  why aren't you wearing one of those covering things? aren't you all terrorists?  A Jew? aren't you the ones that say you look after the poor and the orphan but then go and create more by bombing the Palestinians?  These are hard accusations against any faith community based on limited understanding. So what makes the Christian community or any faith community a faith community?

For Christians, it starts with an acceptance, an acceptance of Christ who holds open a door into post-resurrection life (Jn 10.1-10).  Only when we truly enter into that life by stepping over the threshold of death do we begin to form the community that Christ  / God calls us into. Yet there is more to this than just acceptance and entry.  We enter into resurrection life by passing through our own deaths.  The death of our own individual wants and desires.  An entry into a life that is centred not on our own selves but on God.  It is a grouping of individuals that have allowed their trust to blossom between themselves and God in such a manner as to allow God to lead them.  It is not a community that is built on shame or on the concept of shaming someone to do something.  It is a group that builds its relationship around trust.  Trust in the other that is not myself and trust in the other that is ultimately other.  By opening the door Christ invites us into a relationship that is built on trust and love.  For us to become a viable part of that trusting community we need to shed our own desires and wants that we impose on others around us.  If we do not how can we build on trust? and in love?

Discerning the call into community not individuality
© Blake Coffee 

We open ourselves up to God and God's community, allowing God to direct and build according to God's will not in accordance with our will.  How is this done?  Perhaps, like the early followers of Christ immediately post resurrection (Acts 2.42-47), it is centred around the worship of God and prayer.  It is not centred around the crutches that we often depend on in today's world to focus our minds and let us know that God is present. Today, it is as if we cannot let go of ourselves and enter into God's presence without a symbolic crutch.  In those early days there were no symbols of the risen Lord only knowledge of God's presence as the worshippers immersed themselves in prayer.  We come together to form community around the table in communal worship.  It is not individual time to be with God when we come to worship; it is community being formed in God.  The joy and the hope that is formed is a joy and hope in community.  We are individuals outside of the worshipping community but we form the community in worship.  Each time we come together as a community we come together in the presence of God and allow his Spirit to affect our behaviour in Community.  If we set ourselves apart from the community, by clinging to our crutches, we no longer form as God's community but rather we come together as a bunch of individuals supermarket shopping for a Spiritual experience.

No comments: