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Click here to read this conference on the Internet.

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Questions for Reflection and Discussion

1. What is your experience of Christian community at this time in your life?

2. How do you experience Christ in Christian community?

3. What have been some of your highs and lows in Christian community through the years?

4. What was your family life like? Does it seem now like it was a kind of "ecclesia domestica?"
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Golly, Phil, reading your conference was almost like reading my own autobiography for my formative years, childhood/family life thru early college years through the seventies. Funny, though, how my own experience then rapidly diverged, even radically so in many ways, thereafter.

For those unaware, Phil and I were both South Louisiana Catholics, zoology majors, guitar players, Charismatic Renewal and Retreat movement and Catholic Student Center regulars, dated sisters, moved from one university to the next and lived as roommates, etc, so to speak regular clones. This makes, perhaps, for a good twin study, as after graduate school and marriage our paths very much diverged during our early child-rearing years (I have four, three in college in 2004 and a third grader for merry measure) and early career paths. I went into the business world as a banker and Phil stayed pretty much in a service-oriented mode as a campus minister, substance abuse counselor, a budding author on spirituality, then a best-selling author for Ligouri and, finally, in retreat center/spiritual direction mode.

Perhaps it was life's contingencies and exigencies that helped shape our experiences of community after that moreso than temperament differences, but with all of the above background, I just wanted to point out what occurred to me as I read this conference.

After my early years of very heavy involvement in parish life, whether liturgically as a music minister, or on the parish council, once as a youth rep and once as a pastor's appointee, especially in retreat programs at many college and high school programs, my experience of community changed. I didn't feel as drawn to these active ministerial contributions and when it came to liturgical participation, I very much wanted to serve as Joe Congregation, more quietly, less visibly.

I don't think I would call this shift burn-out, although there were certainly some incidents of that at times but not really so very deformative or anything. I think part of the shift was to a more contemplative orientation taking hold.

At the same time, I was commuting and driving many miles and many hours a day and using this time for both quiet meditation, prayer and listening to tapes (spirituality). I also continued to nurture a very active interest in the science and religion dialogue, which has only waned fairly recently after having had enough time in early post-retirement to about exhaust my interest in natural theology and metaphysics. I was very jealously guarding my time with my children, too, not taking on outside involvements that would interfere with our being together at nights and on weekends. I began making retreats, silent retreats as opposed to the group dynamic types I had been immersed in. Phil and I stayed in touch and I read his books and manuscripts and we corresponded a tad, something that would fully blossom with the advent of the Internet where we were both early-adopters.

Because I worked on so many different venues in my two decades as a banker and met so very many people, I found a lot of spiritual kinfolk in many different towns, in many different capacities (customers, employees, vendors, regulators, etc) because I was very open to sharing my spiritual journey with anyone willing to reciprocate or otherwise interested. What happened was this, I think. My experience of Christian community became less compartmentalized, something I did on Sundays or otherwise exclusively in my home parish. It became what I would call more dispersed (diasporic even) and something I experienced at home, on the road, at work, in this town or that, with this person or that, everywhere and all the time, not in what some might call, pejoratively, a superspiritual way but certainly multidimensionally. My spiritual life was, pardon the phrase, a seamless garment as I segued between home and work and worship, finding God in all of my activities. This dynamism was reinforced with the Internet and my participation with Phil's forums and listservs and many others.

Now, what I am I saying? Is there anything about my journey that should be normative? Well, perhaps only that aspect where our lives don't become so compartmentalized, spiritually. Like when I asked my Dad what to tithe once: He said, since Jesus came, the percentages are thrown out. You give 100% of all that you are and all that you have under this new Covenant and He'll reciprocate. Is there anything unique? Only inasmuch as something I was once taught about the journey. A wonderful priest once taught me that there are two ways to participate in Church, one as a settler, one as a pilgrim. We need them both. We need folks willing to man the fort, keep the stoves burning, food on the table, raising the youngun's, etc We also need folks to venture out as pilgrims and to go where others have never gone, reaching out to those who aren't otherwise in our community back at the fort. I suppose to some extent he was talking about the charisms of being either a conservative or a progressive in the Church. In another sense, I guess I recognized the analogy in how I was experiencing community in a more broad sense than just strictly my contributions and participation in parish life. Much of the analogy can be applied to my interreligious and interideological dialogue with some of the world's leading, shall I say, nontheists. (A whole other story).

Back home, now, retired, I haven't fully reintegrated into parish life to the same extent I did in my earlier years. I did get a call from my pastor one day. And I wondered what in the world it could be about. Before returning the call, I prayed and asked God for guidance, still not knowing what it was he wanted, large task or small, or whatever. I decided to return the call by showing up at the rectory and I resolved ahead of time, with no small amount of trepidation, that I would respond affirmatively to whatever he asked, no matter what it was. That was a venture in faith. All he wanted, as it turned out, was for me to serve on the Finance Committee. No sweat. I never did tell him that he could have asked anything else, for that won't be the case again. Thankfully, Isaac came back down that mountain in one piece. I do reach out to many people in many forums on the Internet and also minister to folks at home, in my own community, via e-mail. I tell myself that I thus minister to the few who minister to the many -- butterfly effect, or George Baileyesque.

I think I am a pilgrim. Does this make sense?

I'll stop. This is long enough already.

pax,
jb

p.s. I really must add that with my aging parents and 6 siblings with their spouses and 16 neices and nephews all nearby and together often, I very much experience Christian Community in that aspect. As an elder sibling, nearest my parents' home (same street) I am also very much a settler for this extended family community. It's a full time job just attending birthday parties. I sang with my siblings for many a wedding or funeral over the years as a singing group, too. I would say that, without that support, I would rely much heavier on more in-person contact and involvement in parish activities.
 
Posts: 2881 | Registered: 25 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Johnboy, I think you hit on something important in your sharing about how you experience some level of Christian community in many places. I agree, although I think it is my general sense of Christ that helps me tune into that. Hopefully, that sense of presence will be stronger when the Christian community gathers for worship; my experience confirms this, at least.

----

How about some more sharing on this topic?
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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that sense of presence will be stronger when the Christian community gathers for worship

I did fail to point out that daily mass in other cities was definitely my home away from home Smiler

I enjoy attending Eucharist in other places inasmuch as it reinforces the tremendous solidarity that I sense with fellow believers all over the world.

I think in my fallen-redeemed humanity the sense of presence is indeed stronger when in community gathered for worship. At the same time, the incarnational presence, when I go forth to love and serve, sets a banquet always before me ... Humanly, though, I cannot always see what's on the banquet table and the Gathering removes the scales from my eyes, always renewing the vision ...
 
Posts: 2881 | Registered: 25 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I've had some very rich experiences with Christian community. I think the richest of these was in a folk group I sang in for years at our cathedral. We all became good friends, and socialized and laughed and cried and played and sang and prayed together. The songs we sang at Mass were outgrowths of our time together, and our time together led to richer and more prayerful music at Mass. It was the closest thing to living in a community without actually living together. But alas, all good things come to an end, and we all went our different ways, either through marriage or education, or just because life happens. I did a year of graduate studies in Spain, and while I tried to be involved with other Christians there, people didn't seem to have any depth to their faith. It seemed to be all based on tradition. And if someone shared something that was meaningful to them, it would sound to the others like the person sharing was just saying what they "should" say, and that sharing, even if it came from the heart, was discounted. It was wonderful to get back home to what was left of my community, but it wasn't the same. Eventually I got married and we had our daughter. My husband, having been raised in a traditional Catholic family where Sundays usually ended with everyone becoming angry with each other, eventually decided the Church wasn't the place for him. And our daughter, being young and more physically oriented, wasn't interested in sitting through Mass, listening to something she didn't understand. I wanted to remain active, and tried to find a way to do so. I remember when we moved into our current home and tried our neighborhood parish, my husband mentioned to a lady that I was looking for a community. She said, "We're having a fashion show." I still wonder what she wanted me, as a blind person, to get out of a fashion show. Did she want me to model or to watch??? I finally decided that the best way for me to get involved in a Christian community was through music ministry, and for the last 12 years I've been at St. Francis Parish, and been very happy, although it's not the same as the close community of my college days. But I've pretty much learned to accept that this is where I am and what I can offer at this stage in my life. Our family doesn't go to church together or pray together, as my husband and daughter never did return to the church. But we all try to live our lives based on reflection, and not just superficially, and my husband and I try to base our lives on spirituality, even though we come at it from different angles. So that, in a nutshell, has been my experience of Christian community over the years.
quote:
Originally posted by Phil:
[qb] Click here to read this conference on the Internet.

------

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

1. What is your experience of Christian community at this time in your life?

2. How do you experience Christ in Christian community?

3. What have been some of your highs and lows in Christian community through the years?

4. What was your family life like? Does it seem now like it was a kind of "ecclesia domestica?" [/qb]
 
Posts: 46 | Location: Sacramento, CA | Registered: 14 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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One thing your sharing brings out, Peggy, is that Christian community isn't always easy to find. We have all these Christian congregations with different traditions, but that doesn't necessarily mean that depthful Christian community can be found there.

I think you also point out that there are what we might call "levels" of participation in community. Johnboy alluded to the same. One can be a "pay and pray" member, and there are probably times when that's what we need to do. Christ's presence touches us at that level, but we might have a hard time recognizing it. Belonging to a group who ministers together and who supports each other in this work is a deeper "gathering in his name," I believe, and imparts a deeper sense of Christ's presence. Charisms are activated in ways we just don't experience when we're more superficially involved; whenever charisms are activated, there is a stronger sense of Christ's Spirit working in our lives.

I think there is a sense in which any kind of group who strives for growth and authentic living is a "gathering in Christ's name," even if not explicitly so. It sounds like your family life is like that; maybe a workplace can be like that as well. Those who are awake in their faith will sense Christ's presence in those contexts, and will probably long for a fuller expression of it as well.
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Much of what Phil talked about I could relate too especially coming into the Catholic Church as a convert. Growing up in the Fundamentalist Evangelical tradition the one thing they major in is intense community. I also lived communally in a Post Jesus Movement Community. I missed that closeness sometimes and wished I had taken more advantage of it. My addiction kept me from connecting with people. I have been blessed to be part of a small group connected to the domestic(at home) espression John Michael Talbot's monastic and charismatic ministry. His community based in Arkansas and then has loosely structured small groups accross the country and in Europe. Admittedly the small groups are not like living communally but do help me to learn connect somewhat fullfill my longing for community. The groups have also a Jesus Movement or Charismatic feel which touch my past. John Micheal Talbot was part of the Jesus Movement and the Christian Music Industry. The Parish I attend is unique in the sense that it was modeled after the Willow Creek experiment. It's Kinda like crossing evangelicalism, Charismatic Renewal with Catholicism. I often said it was culturally evangelical making it easy for me to convert. The Parish started in a Factory in the early 90's and today has 5000 members mainy reverts as well as converts. Unfortunately because of my wife's illness I have not been able to connect like would have liked too but I have some close friends and enjoy praise and worship night, and various bible studies. My favorite mass is the young adult mass which uses modern music with some traditional stuff and charismatic worship.the Parish has a website http://www.churchofholyapostles.com/ .
I have community sometimes I miss it because I miss the intensity of communal living. I have also had 2 great spiritual directors who helped and encouraged to become involved with SA a 12 step group for sexual addiction. Here I was finally able to stop living two lives and talk about an addiction that has plaqued me since childhood.
 
Posts: 205 | Location: McHenry Illinois | Registered: 01 July 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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1. What is your experience of Christian community at this time in your life?


I belong to a very LARGE Catholic parish and I teach kindergarten in the parish school. So I experience community with many parish families by teaching their children. I enjoy waving to my students at Mass (all right, it's a very tiny wave) and there is an opportunity for me to feel close to many families because of my special relationship with their child(ren).

All of my friends and neighbors are Catholic, too. So it's a pretty close-knit community.


In the summer I attended morning mass several times a week at a shrine church, not my parish church. Usually about 20 "regulars" would gather each morning, and there was a sense of community in that group....different from what I experience on Sunday. Not necessarily better, but different. When I was away on a trip for a few days, the old priest at the shrine asked me where I had been?....that they had missed me. There was a sincerity at those weekday masses that I don't always sense on Sunday.

2. How do you experience Christ in Christian community?

Hmmmm.....I'll have to think on this one. When I was waiting for some test results this past fall I would stay after Mass and have some members of the Jonah Team pray over me. This was a pretty powerful experience. Those people were very sincere in their concern for me, and they took what they did very seriously. These Jonah Team members didn't know me well, but we experienced a sense of community in those exchanges for sure. They were praying over me because I was a member of their church, asking for their prayers.

And of course, working in the school, I experience community with the other teachers and the school community.


3. What have been some of your highs and lows in Christian community through the years?

Probably when I was really turned off by our pastor. This was during a time when I was doing a lot of searching myself, and it seemed that my pastor constantly preached about a kind of spirituality experienced only through service. Every time he said the word "serve" I would sort of wince. Those were days when my kids were demanding and I hardly had enough energy to keep up with what was right in front of me, much less go "out" and serve some other group of people. And so I was very "turned off." And still, I don't see my pastor as a very spiritual priest. I'm not as bothered about it though, as I was a few years back. Perhaps he is so bogged down with finances that he hasn't the energy. Or perhaps, since he is a Vincentian priest, he really believes that "service" is the only way. I don't know....but I did manage to get past that frustration.


4. What was your family life like? Does it seem now like it was a kind of �ecclesia domestica?�

My parents attended Mass weekly, but my dad went to early Mass and my mom went at another time. This was because my dad always played golf on Sunday. Nobody talked much about religion. And to this day my mom doesn't talk much about religion. She talks about praying for this and that. My dad doesn't talk about his faith at all.

My husband was raised Catholic, but doesn't really "buy into it." His attitude is, if religion makes you feel better fine. But he told me that he doesn't even believe in an afterlife. So, of course this doesn't make me feel comfortable talking about my faith with him, as he tends to ridicule me....not in a nasty way, but just in a way that make me shut down. And now that he is suffering from MS it is even harder, because I'm not sure how people with chronic illness cope WITHOUT faith, so I don't know what to say to him to give him any sense of hope. Since he doesn't approach things from a faith base.

When my kids were small they went to Mass with me, of course. My husband went with me for about a year, but then after he became ill it took too much effort for him to go...and he wasn't very motivated to go to begin with. Now my son is away at college. My daughter goes to Mass with me sometimes, but oftentimes she goes to a different Mass to accomodate her busy High School schedule. Soo....it's back to me again, by myself. It's sort of the story of my life.

Many of my friends come from large families and (like johnboy) do a great deal of socializing with their brothers, sisters, kids, etc. I'm pretty much left out of that sort of thing, too. I'm the youngest in my family, both older siblings live away and my parents are now in their mid-eighties. So there aren't many large family gatherings in which to experience community in that way.

Anne
 
Posts: 172 | Location: Missouri | Registered: 10 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Phil, you surely stirred memories of that "antagonistic relationship" between the Bishop of Baton Rouge and campus ministry at L.S.U. in 1980. I really laugh now when I recall turning on the evening news and, in shock, seeing my young college son marching in the front line to the Bishop's residence. Without cell phones then, it was a very impatient wait to hear from him instead of from the media. The students were so sincere in working for the poor with their beloved Claretians, who were being ousted by the Bishop. They formed community. The institutional church was not community for them at that time. Since then we have been blessed with three very holy Shepherds (one died in office; another became Archbishop of New Orleans); and the institutional church issued a sincere apology. That son, by the way, is now age 45 and faithfully sings in choir at Mass. Through forgiveness,that episode was a low and eventually became a high.

As a child, my life was tormented by the fact that I attended a parochial school in which I was taught that my parents would never go to Heaven because they did not attend Sunday Mass. As I matured, it was a healing grace that gave me the realization that Christian community involved around their love and faithfulness to each other, and their love for their children, all of whom were sent to Catholic schools. When it came to the institutional church, my Dad refused to mend a relationship with the pastor, and my Mom went along with him. So when I had my own family, it was natural for me to consider my family as my primary community. Yet, I also became involved in an assortment of church volunteer work before Vatican II and more fruitful ministries after the Council. Tension grew within myself as I got caught up in the competition between all the communities that both my husband and I belonged to. Mother Church strongly implied a primary role, blindly overlooking the possible neglect of the family primary community. I also take responsibility for the unhealthy tension because I finally realized that deep down I was trying to make up for what my childhood family community lacked. Hopefully today I am in balance and truly enjoy my involvements. I am very blessed belonging to a prayer group of seven women who had all been "hatched" via the Charismatic Renewal. We meet in a home to pray, praise, share and support one another. It has helped me to grow and to catch my backsliding. The Mass is the summit of it all. To remember is to make present; and we are making present the passion, death, resurrection of Christ to extend God's love and mercy to the whole world. The Risen Lord comes to each of us to give peace and joy and heal wherever we need it.
Blessings to my online retreat community,
Nettie
 
Posts: 10 | Location: Gramercy, Louisiana | Registered: 23 February 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Is everyone here Catholic? I never think of myself as a particular brand of Christianity, though I am a confirmed Episcopalian.

1. What is your experience of Christian community at this time in your life?

I am in transition since resigning from full time church ministry and have a somewhat different view of community since then, which involves natural community - those who live next door, shop in the same grocery stores, and so on.

I am now attending a smaller church that has a heart of compassion for those who hurt, those who are hungry and destitute. I am very drawn to this church because I see a collective heart that has truly been touched by the healing Gospel of Christ. The members of this church sense they themselves are loved by a God who embraces his own creation and that makes all the difference. I am experiencing the presence of Christ in a faith community that loves each other and those far beyond themselves. They see Christ in the least of humankind. This is very beautiful and touches me deeply.

2. How do you experience Christ in Christian community?

At the Eucharist I sense the Oneness in Christ with all present and there is a holy presence that disolves the differences that we have created among ourselves.

3. Highs and lows...

The experience of oneness in the Eucharist service and lived out in community is almost ecstatic at times. The pain of betrayal that can happen in the church is devastating. I have been in both places.

4. What was your family life like? Does it seem now like it was a kind of "ecclesia domestica?"

My family was far from perfect but we did love each other and our sibling relationships have deepened through the years. Growing up we had many aunts, uncles and cousins and we were all pretty close. Today, one of my best friends is one of my cousins. Together we have all tried to work through the issues we inherited.
 
Posts: 3 | Location: Plano, TX | Registered: 24 February 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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>Questions for Reflection and Discussion
>
>1. What is your experience of Christian community at this time in your life?
>
>2. How do you experience Christ in Christian community?
>
>3. What have been some of your highs and lows in Christian community
>through the years?
>
>4. What was your family life like? Does it seem now like it was a
>kind of "ecclesia domestica?" -----
>
>Actually when I first read this question I thought "what Christian
>community?" Then I read Peggy's response and suddenly started
>relating. As I said in a previous post I attend a peace church,
>Fairfield Mennonite to be exact. How I came to be a member is a long
>story, so here's the Cliff notes version. My family ( my parents and
>siblings) did not attend any church while I was growing up. My
>father suffer abuse in a church run orphanage and literally ran away
>to the Navy.( out of the frying pan into the fire?) My mother on the
>other hand was raised Lutheran. Her childhood revolved around the
>church. When my mom and dad married and started a family the
>discussion on how to raise the children reared it's ugly head. My
>father was adamant about NOT having anything to do with "church" .
>(although he was spiritual) My mother after many arguments resigned
>herself to his decision telling us that when we are old enough we
>could decide for ourselves.
>Now all my life I have been drawn to Catholicism. >From a "nun" doll
>that I simply had to have as a child to
>my present deep spiritual relationship with a Sister from St. Mary's
>in Fairfield.
>It seems as though I have always been searching but it wasn't until
>recently that I realized the depth and breadth of my search.
>
>I attended several churches after I was a young adult. Always
>accepting the what was told to me and trying hard not to question
>what I heard. Needless to say that didn't work. Eventually I made my
>way to Fairfield Mennonite(FMC) and found something that I longed
>for.... a community of searching pilgrims. ( sometimes we call
>ourselves "searching misfits":-) )
>FMC is as about as far left as you can get and still be Mennonite.
>About a year into attending, our pastor announced that Ain Karim (
>Catholic retreat center) was offering an ecumenical retreat to the
>community. I signed up for 1 week and never looked back. It has been
>a most wonderful journey. It is ok to question and search and ponder
>all things. From Charismatic services to Eastern meditation to
>liberation theology to fundamentalism to writing icons with my dear
>Sister, it has woven the most unique and colorful faith. Last night
>I was talking to a friend discussing two books that I am currently
>reading "Jesus against Christianity" and the "Nonviolent
>Atonement." I was relating that I am "hearing" theologies that I
>never heard before and feeling very unsettled about the whole thing.
>My friends response was that growing in Christ can be uncomfortable
>as well as exciting. I totally agree. I pray for only the truth and
>God has not let me down. He really can't be put into a box.
>I love our church community and even though I struggle at times , we
>are there for each other. Always affirming and supporting each
>other.... it has become a true family to me.
>
>In my nucleus family, my husband attends church with me (and any
>other program I can drag him to) and is on his own search. We
>compliment each other. He keeps me grounded and I give him wings.
>Our sons are searching as well. The younger one is more open to
>experiencing Christ, learning about Him. The older son has a
>reluctance to any type of organized religion. However he communes
>with nature constantly so I am not worried. He doesn't realize yet
>that he too is on a journey. God works with us where ever we are at.
>All He needs is a crack. So all the while my son is hiking and
>caving and enjoying nature, God is speaking to him.
>
>
>For me, at the present time, my focus has been on deepening my
>relationship with Christ. Allowing him to open my heart and mind and
>hands. I desire to know and love Him more deeply. It has not always
>been easy or pleasant. As a member of a peace church we are very
>service oriented. We believe that we are Christ's hands and feet in
>this world. We believe that we are called to be Christ to each other
>and to all regardless of faith, origin, or class. We are called to
>be Christ's love in a sometimes loveless world... accepting all,
>excluding no one.
>
>John Stoner from Every Church a Peace Church(
><http://www.ecpc.org>www.ecpc.org ) spoke at our church the other
>week. He spoke about "believing Jesus" not just "believing in
>Jesus". What would it look like if we modeled our affairs based on
>the beliefs that Christ had? How would our lives changed if we truly
>believed Jesus? This has proven to be a major obstacle in my faith
>journey. I am having to revisit decisions that I have made and
>beliefs that I have held onto for so long. It has not weakened my
>faith but rather has caused me to look deeply within and ask for
>help.
>
>All in all I embrace this journey. For years I fought hard and
>gained little. As I get older I am learning to be patient. The
>teacher appears when the student is ready. Thanks to all of you
>and for this opportunity to share.
>Peace be with all of you. ~ elizabeth
>
 
Posts: 4 | Registered: 23 February 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hi all,

In my current faith community where I've been for the past 22 years, there is a genuine feeling of care and community among us. We are about 200 communicants with maybe 90-100 on a given Sunday of two services. Several people have remarked how much our parish feels like a "womb". It is a very healing place for the broken or otherwise wounded person. Even though we are close and share each others sorrows and celebrations, I've heard visitors and new members say we aren't "cliquish" (is that a word??? Confused ) like you might expect. With the ordination of Gene Robinson as bishop we experienced quite a bit of disagreement among us, but amazingly I saw us agree to disagree and love each other anyway. Case-in-point, after a highly-heated "discussion" about what happened during and after the Episcopal General Convention, no one left in a "huff"...at least we were all laughing and talking with each other afterwards. No one has stopped coming to worship, either, based on their disagreement with what has transpired at the national level.

This reminds me of what of what I've experienced in community on my job in terms of conflict. I have learned that conflict and confrontation, alone, are not bad in themselves. Often to have a prophetic voice, conflict and confrontation are necessary (witness Dr. MLK, Jr.). For me, I've learned that it is what we do with the anger and bad feelings that arise during the confrontation. How do we transform that energy of anger into something creative and useful? Recently my experiences seem to suggest that greater intimacy with the other is made possible once the conflict is "lived-into" and not run from or brushed aside. I see the spirit of Christ in this way bringing the conflicting parties into newer, more intimate relationship. This, however, is not without some pain and suffering...often on both parties part. Having experienced it, believe me, it isn't as easy done as I've said.

Noting this statement really gives me time to pause, because my first concept of community was truly a mess! I think sometimes I am still recovering from my childhood environment of fear and violence, so learning to be vulnerable and open to the other in a truly authentic way is a challenge. Now, I feel particularly blessed to have close,warm ties in my own nuclear family. I will never forget one Sunday our late rector saying something to the effect that we mustn't ever forget that each one of our homes was a mini-church...that really stuck with me...that Jesus Christ is in our midst and so we needed to remember this during our daily interactions with each other. Our daughter is a college student now, but the three of us have faithfully attended church together for these many years. Crystal and I have talked and she knows the importance of faith in my daily life.

I spoke earlier of being authentically open to the other. Authenticity is really important to me. It doesn't matter how pleasant we are with each other in a church, if I never see your true face...just your pleasant one. I think this is one of the things I like about my parish. I am different in many ways and that is okay. To me, this is the spirit of Christ at work!
 
Posts: 7 | Location: Dallas, TX | Registered: 15 April 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Just listening, and noting several sharings which spoke to me about how Christ draws us into community and forms us there.

From Johnboy: A wonderful priest once taught me that there are two ways to participate in Church, one as a settlor, one as a pilgrim. We need them both. We need folks willing to man the fort, keep the stoves burning, food on the table, raising the youngun's, etc We also need folks to venture out as pilgrims and to go where others have never gone, reaching out to those who aren't otherwise in our community back at the fort.

Peggy: I finally decided that the best way for me to get involved in a Christian community was through music ministry, and for the last 12 years I've been at St. Francis Parish, and been very happy, although it's not the same as the close community of my college days. But I've pretty much learned to accept that this is where I am and what I can offer at this stage in my life.

brjaan: I have community sometimes I miss it because I miss the intensity of communal living. I have also had 2 great spiritual directors who helped and encouraged to become involved with SA a 12 step group for sexual addiction. Here I was finally able to stop living two lives and talk about an addiction that has plaqued me since childhood.

AnneD: When I was away on a trip for a few days, the old priest at the shrine asked me where I had been?....that they had missed me. There was a sincerity at those weekday masses that I don't always sense on Sunday.

Nettie: I am very blessed belonging to a prayer group of seven women who had all been "hatched" via the Charismatic Renewal. We meet in a home to pray, praise, share and support one another. It has helped me to grow and to catch my backsliding.

Janie: I am now attending a smaller church that has a heart of compassion for those who hurt, those who are hungry and destitute. I am very drawn to this church because I see a collective heart that has truly been touched by the healing Gospel of Christ. The members of this church sense they themselves are loved by a God who embraces his own creation and that makes all the difference.

Elizabeth: I pray for only the truth and
>God has not let me down. He really can't be put into a box.
>I love our church community and even though I struggle at times , we
>are there for each other. Always affirming and supporting each
>other.... it has become a true family to me.


Freda: In my current faith community where I've been for the past 22 years, there is a genuine feeling of care and community among us. We are about 200 communicants with maybe 90-100 on a given Sunday of two services. Several people have remarked how much our parish feels like a "womb". It is a very healing place for the broken or otherwise wounded person. Even though we are close and share each others sorrows and celebrations, I've heard visitors and new members say we aren't "cliquish" (is that a word??? ) like you might expect.
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Someone said it is good to have both Pilgrims and settlers. I guess I have been both. Been through many different types of Christian communities and have gained something beautiful from each one of them. From fundamentalists and evangelicals a love for scripture, from charismatics a need for more dependence on God, from the Jesus movement a sense of what true community can be like and a need to relate to the culture, from liberal evangelicals and pietists a sense of God's holiness and service to others, Anglicanism a love for liturgy and Catholicism where all came together for me. I also recently became involved with a 12 step program which helped me to deal with my hidden life and come into the light and put my faith together. I could go on. Today I feel like a settler.
 
Posts: 205 | Location: McHenry Illinois | Registered: 01 July 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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brjaan, that pilgrim/settler is an interesting way of describing different ways of being in community. The emphases given in the various Christian traditions are indeed gifts which we can all benefit from, no matter which one we find ourselves settling in.
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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