Friday, September 14, 2012

Thoughts on Community (part 1)

It has been a very long time since I've blogged my thoughts here...not to say that I haven't been thinking, but life has been extremely busy and my thoughts haven't made it past my journal in a long time.  This morning though, as I enjoy my day off after my morning run, I felt compelled to share some of what I've been reading and thinking through regarding community. 

Currently, I am reading (well, among many other books) "Life Together" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  I'm in chapter 2 and there are only 5 chapters because it's a pretty small book, but his view points on community have already widened my idea of what that word truly means.  My church is very focused on community with regards to how we live out the mission of God within His story so these thoughts have been simmering for a long time... it'll probably take me several 'parts' to get it all out, but maybe that will entice me to write more :)

This morning I'm going to skip ahead to what Bonhoeffer talks about in the beginning of chapter 2: "The Day's Beginning".  I've heard it said often that the best time to spend with the Lord is in the morning.  This makes sense because you are getting up, refreshed (hopefully) and ready for the day ahead.  What better way to focus on the Lord than to do your devotions as part of your morning routine.  I'll admit to not always getting the chance to do this in a formal setting, but I think that 'spending time' with God can take on various different forms.  For me, some mornings that means turning off the music and just praying while I run or, while I'm making my lunch for the day, listening to scripture or a sermon, or even just blasting worship music and praising God while I go about my morning chores.  There are so many different ways that this fellowship with Him can come out and I love that!  God is such a God of diversity and creativity - just look around at the different cultures and different art forms He's given us!

Anyway, back to community.  Bonhoeffer begins chapter 2 by talking about the morning, "Morning does not belong to the individual, it belongs to the Church of the triune God, to the Christian family, to the brotherhood" (41).  When I first read that I thought, "Wait a second - is he saying we need to be doing this in community?"  It's one thing to hold yourself accountable to 'personal time' with the Lord as we like to call it, but as I read, I wondered if he was suggesting we spend this time communally every morning?  A few paragraphs later he went on to say, "Common life under the Word begins with common worship at the beginning of the day.  The family community gathers for praise and thanks, reading of Scripture, and prayer"(41). 

I'll admit, I was both thrilled and terrified by his conclusion of community worship.  It sounds amazing, I mean who wouldn't want to spend an hour a day with your brothers and sisters in Christ worshiping the Lord through the reading of scripture, singing of hymns & psalms, and prayer.  Sounds like a dream!  But then reality hits and the practical side of me starts to rear its ugly head and I could this ever work?  On initial evaluation, our culture (myself included) is entirely to busy, to self focused, and to separated for something like this. 

Am I wrong?

My initial excitement then gave way to disappointment.  How could something like this work?  As I read on, Bonhoeffer explained how these times would look different depending on the type of community you were in.  If it were a family with children, the time would need to be age appropriate.  The picture in my mind began to take shape.  Yes, this type of community he is suggesting would be very difficult to put into action with our lives as they are currently.  Maybe I see it as a more radical thing because I am single and my community isn't automatically my family (since they don't live close).  For me, it would mean a dedication to experiencing something like this with my roommate or a few close friends possibly once a month or once a week if we were "really dedicated". 

This type of encouragement within community could be such a blessing and cause a huge fire to swell within the church.  Imagine a group of brothers and sisters in Christ spending time in prayer, worship, and scripture reading together once a week in the early morning before going to work.  How invigorating would that be?  It gets me excited just to think about it!  But is thinking all I'll do?

Something like this takes sacrifice and commitment - something I think my generation and those after lack.  It's hard to get up in the morning.  It's hard to commit to something even once a month let alone once a week.  It's hard to put others first when sleep is in the way.  I say these things to myself more than anything else and I ask, "What would You have me do, Lord?" As I continue to delve deeper into "Life Together", I hope to find suggestions and direction on how the Lord would have me enact this within my life.  Let the journey begin ;)

"The deep stillness of morning is broken first by the prayer and song of the fellowship." (42)