Sharon Kinsey's Blog

I have been thinking a lot lately about what it means to “live in community.” Our Sunday morning Adult Faith Formation group took a look at how we might find common ground when we live and work with folks who think differently. We read The Rule of St. Benedict, which is perhaps one of the oldest guides to living in Christian community:

The community members, for their part, are to express their opinions with all humility, and do not presume to defend their own views obstinately.

As Presbyterians, when we have big decisions to make, we call our members together, and ask for ideas and opinions. We refer to our members as a faith family or our Christian community.

Community had a different meaning for me in years past. Growing up our houses were close together, we knew all our neighbors, children walked to and from school, our doors were open, and if we needed an egg or a cup of sugar, we ran next door. It was pretty much the same when our boys were young. When we moved to Indiana, Jack and I were busy with new jobs, our boys were grown, and houses were quite far apart. Our communities became other soccer parents, colleagues at work, and my fellow grad students at VU. None of these folks lived nearby or attended our church. We shared surface conversations, but not much in depth.

I’ve been reading a book called “The Art of Neighboring” by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon. It’s about how faith-based leaders might work together to serve communities. Based on the great Commandment of Jesus (Matthew 22:36-40), the book explains how loving our neighbors is one of the easiest and most powerful practices we can do to impact our world in positive ways. Jesus doesn’t allow a lot of wiggle room – following the great Commandment is not optional.

One of my favorite hymns was written in 1966 by Peter Scholtes, a parish priest in South Chicago. He was actively involved in the Civil Rights movement and was looking for music that the young people at his church could sing at interracial events. He wrote “We Are One in the Spirit” in just a day. Jesus said, “Everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). How many times have we sung the words “…and they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love…” Singing the words is one thing, reaching out to others who are not in our close circle is another thing altogether.

Whether we are in community with the people in our family, our neighborhoods, our Bible study group, our town, or out in the world, we can choose a lifestyle of conversation and witness. The story of Jesus is evident in how we connect with the folks around us. We have some incredibly creative members who are planning some exciting all-church events this summer – block parties, a music/art/drama summer camp, and a local mission experience for our youth. Come join us. Invite a neighbor, or friend from work. Let them see that Jesus has something wonderful and life-changing to offer. We’d love for them to make this journey with us.

In Christ’s love,

Sharon

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