Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

Community

Monday, May 21st, 2018

My friend Sara says that the really inconvenient thing about being Christian is the fact that God is revealed in other people, and other people are annoying. I understand the impulse of not wanting to be in community. I can’t argue with that. But I think the experience of bumping up against other people has changed me in ways that I never could have been changed if I was just reading books and practicing meditation. We don’t get to be Christians on our own. It’s really inconvenient, and I wish there were a different setup for that. But that’s what we were handed.

— Nadia Bolz-Weber, Accidental Saints, p. 207-208

[Photo: South Riding, Virginia, on the property of Gateway Community Church, April 24, 2016]

The Wideness of the Tent

Saturday, May 5th, 2018

This desire to learn what the faith is from those who have lived it in the face of being told they are not welcome or worthy is far more than “inclusion.” Actually, inclusion isn’t the right word at all, because it sounds like in our niceness and virtue we are allowing “them” to join “us” — like we are judging another group of people to be worthy of inclusion in a tent that we don’t own. I realized in that coffee shop that I need the equivalent of the Ethiopian eunuch to show me the faith. I continually need the stranger, the foreigner, the “other” to show me water in the desert. I need to hear, “here is water in the desert, so what is to keep me, the eunuch, from being baptized?” Or me the queer or me the intersex or me the illiterate or me the neurotic or me the overeducated or me the founder of Focus on the Family.

Until I face the difficulty of that question and come up, as Philip did, with no good answer . . . until then, I can only look at the seemingly limited space under the tent and think either it’s my job to change people so they fit or it’s my job to extend the roof so that they fit. Either way, it’s misguided because it’s not my tent. It’s God’s tent. The wideness of the tent of the Lord is my concern only insofar as it points to the gracious nature of a loving God who became flesh and entered into our humanity. The wideness of the tent is my concern only insofar as it points to the great mercy and love of a God who welcomes us all as friends.

— Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastrix, p. 94

[Photo: Meadowlark Gardens, Virginia, April 3, 2012]

Grace in Community

Friday, April 27th, 2018

Jeff, like so many of us, is changed by the word of grace that he hears in church. He is formed by the Word of God. He is given a place where he is told by others that he is a child of God. He is given a place where he can look other people in the eye, other annoying, inconsistent, arrogant people in the eye, hand them bread, and say, “Child of God, the body of Christ, given for you,” and then he, in his own arrogant inconsistencies, has a frame of grace through which to see even the people he can’t stand. I argue that this wouldn’t just happen alone.

This is why we have Christian community. So that we can stand together under the cross and point to the gospel. A gospel that Bonhoeffer said is “frankly hard for the pious to understand. Because this grace confronts us with the truth saying: You are a sinner, a great, desperate sinner, now come as the sinner you are to a God who loves you.”

God wants you, you in your imperfect, broken, shimmering glory.

— Nadia Bolz-Weber, Accidental Saints, p. 168-169

[Photo: Shenandoah National Park, September 27, 2014]

A Lovely Light

Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

We do not draw people to Christ by loudly discrediting what they believe, by teling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.

— Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water, quoted in Madeleine L’Engle, Herself, compiled by Carole F. Chase, p. 155

[Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 16, 2015]

Other People’s Needs

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

We think we know so well what other people need. Often enough we do. But before we can tell what we know, we must first, paradoxically, forget we ever knew it. We must enter the fire of a person’s living presence and accept the risk of spontaneous, unpremeditated relationship. Only in the midst of the free fall of real personal encounter may we discover, when we least expect it, the wisdom to confront a thorny problem.

Whenever possible, it is best to let others take the lead in correcting themselves. It is surprising how willing many are to do this if only they catch a whiff of genuine love. In this atmosphere, as often as not, the forbidden issue will actually be raised by the other person first, and suddenly we’re invited to give the counsel stored up within us. Alternatively, once we come to know and appreciate others, it may no longer seem so important to give them a piece of our mind!

— Mike Mason, Practicing the Presence of People, p. 155

[Photo: South Riding, Virginia, April 11, 2018]

A Community of Loved Ones

Saturday, March 24th, 2018

You may think that a community of loved ones can come later; that what you really need is a partner. If you think this way, chances are good that you are sabotaging your search for love. If you seek romantic love but are not building love into your relationships with friends and family, chances are good that you won’t find what you’re looking for….

Our characters are like wax. Left alone in the cold commerce of day-to-day life, we harden into whatever shape our environment creates for us. Wax must be warmed to be reshaped. We are warmed when we are in the Gift Zone. When we are in the presence of people with whom we feel safe, we are also warmed. We begin to soften. We find ourselves becoming malleable and trusting as we open these tender parts of ourselves again. At that time we need the kind and supportive hands of others to help us reshape ourselves. We can’t do it alone.

— Ken Page, Deeper Dating, p. 74.

[Photo: Bluebell Trail, Bull Run Regional Park, Virginia, April 8, 2016.]

Jump in Together

Saturday, March 17th, 2018

People are less like stationary stones than like rivers, always flowing, changing from moment to moment. The best way to see people is to jump into the river with them and form relationships. Then, at least, we are moving together. This is what relationships are: people in motion together. Only as we move together does it become possible to find stillness.

— Mike Mason, Practicing the Presence of People, p. 28

[Photo: Rhein River, Germany, 1997]

Healing and Community

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

The description of the Gerasene demoniac was one of someone who was completely isolated, who was out of control and alone and in pain. And if being out of control and alone and in pain was what the demon wanted, then it makes complete sense that the demon feared Jesus. Because in these healing texts, Jesus does not just cure people’s diseases and cast out their demons and then say, “Mission accomplished.” He’s always after something more than that because the healing is never fully accomplished until there is a restoration to community. People are healed of disease, and then he tells the folks just standing around watching to go get them something to eat. The widow’s son is raised from the dead and then he gives him back to his mother. And here the man healed of demons is then told to stay with his people and speak of what God has done. In the Jesus business, community is always a part of healing. Even though community is never perfect.

— Nadia Bolz-Weber, Accidental Saints, p. 88

Focus on What You’re For

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

Beware of forming bonds with individuals or groups because you dislike the same people or resent the same things. The trick, once again, is to focus on what you are for rather than what you’re against. Say that an organization against domestic violence keeps its focus on everything that it devalues. Its members motivate themselves with anger and resentment, which they inevitably turn on one another. Such places are notorious for complaints, infighting, backstabbing, and sabotage; they are unpleasant places to work. Advocacy groups motivated by resentment tend to multiply like rabbits without increasing their membership. Disagreements within the groups splinter them into smaller and smaller units, competing with each other for media attention and community resources. The message of the cause becomes secondary to the competition for advancing it. But an organization for something — like safe, respectful relationships — keeps the focus on everything it values. Its members are motivated by passion for what is right — what they stand for — rather than resentment about what is wrong. Such organizations enjoy more cohesion and cooperation, and are simply more pleasant places to work. Bond over what you stand for, not what you’re against. The latter inevitably leads to resentment and aggression, which you’ll automatically transmit to others via the Web of Emotion.

— Steven Stosny, Soar Above, p. 174-175.

True Belonging

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

We’re going to need to intentionally be with people who are different from us. We’re going to have to sign up, join, and take a seat at the table. We’re going to have to learn how to listen, have hard conversations, look for joy, share pain, and be more curious than defensive, all while seeking moments of togetherness.

True belonging is not passive. It’s not the belonging that comes with just joining a group. It’s not fitting in or pretending or selling out because it’s safer. It’s a practice that requires us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable, and learn how to be present with people without sacrificing who we are. We want true belonging, but it takes tremendous courage to knowingly walk into hard moments.

— BrenĂ© Brown, Braving the Wilderness, p. 37