A frequent lament heard in recent years concerns the lack of, or the loss of, community. Apparently this is not as serious in many cultures in the so-called third world. The affluence of the West and the “explosion” in the field of technology, has brought about more personal independence, and a new kind of individualism. We do not need neighbours the way we used to. Many people live in close proximity to people, yet are isolated and alone: on their I-phones, in their work stations, in their houses or apartments.
In the past communities (villages) were built around a “common” – a kind of court, or green, in the center where people met to do business, visit, celebrate, etc. Community is built around something common; that is, something the people have in common. Thus for example, there is a community of firefighters, as we saw after the tragedy of September 11, 2001. A common danger and a common commitment builds them into a community.
There are many other kinds of communities built around a variety of common causes, ideals, hobbies, or concerns: vintage automobiles, cancer survivors, or drinking buddies at the local watering hole, etc.
The church is a community built around a common which is God. Having God as the center makes it a unique community. Having God as the center makes it a world-wide community, with no geographical boundaries. Having God as the center makes it a timeless community. There is no expiry date on membership.
That which community provides can be found here: a kind of belonging, which also translates into a sense of worth; fellowship with others; service opportunities in a common cause; some core values that offer guidance in a variety of ways; opportunity to test ideas, and skills, and opportunity to use them; a place to listen, and a place to be heard; a place where heavy loads are borne communally; and much more.
The central activity of this community is worship. In brief that means trying to tune in to the Highest, for the purpose of uplifting and feeding the soul, that inner essence of what humans truly are. This Godward focus is a turning away from lesser, or lower causes, concerns, desires or ambitions, to that which is pure, noble, and eternal.
The church as community provides the setting where persons can meet God and other people in a togetherness that has potential for healing and fulfillment. But community is not an automatic; it is built by people of faith committed to the worship of God, and seeking the good of others.
Lead us to that healing nourishing community so that we may be healed, and equipped to nourish others.