“Peace be to the whole community, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” – Ephesians 6:23
Nouwen’s focus today is on the deep form of community that we as Christians are called to. “Communion with God allows you to live in community. Community always calls you to deeper communion…Community is a coming together of people who know that they are in communion with God and therefore can enter into community with each other even when there is a person in that community who is going to hurt us.”
I saw an example of this today – I was at the monthly lunch for Mosaix – a local multi-racial community of pastors and church leaders. I have written about this previously and today was a powerful time of sharing and openness. There was clear grace but also clear brokenness and hurt that were shared. There were words of encouragement and words of challenge and conviction. There was black and white sitting down together at table. There was younger and older. I clearly heard the brokenness and pain of my African American sisters and brothers who continue to minister faithfully in the midst of institutionalized prejudice and long histories of racism that has only grown more and more subtle but no less insidious (and maybe even more so). There were some uncomfortable moments. But there was community in the midst because we are in this together. We are all a part of the kingdom work of Jesus Christ even if we come from different backgrounds and different experiences.
I am grateful for what I experienced today – I have much to think about and pray about but I am thankful that we are in this journey together. I am thankful that Christ came to us and meets all of us where we are but also challenges us to go beyond where we find ourselves.
Our gathering ended with words from the oldest person there, a woman in her 80s or 90s who simply reminded us all that in the midst of the passions, disagreements, encouragements, challenges, in all of it…needs to be love. Love that makes community and grows it.
As she spoke those words, I couldn’t help but think about the growing animosities and hatred that we are seeing and hearing in our country today. Calls by people like Donald Trump to close our borders to all Muslims, the growing divide between rich and poor, the animosities between people of different political persuasions, and the list goes on. The church of Jesus the Christ is called to be a place like what we experienced at the table today – honesty, love, community.