If you have read the archive posts on this blog, you know I have written extensively about Community. I love people and relationship is what drives me. I enjoy hanging out and being silly with friends, but I enjoy equally and if not more times of real sharing. So it is no wonder that when God lays out issues of community before me, it really gets my attention.
In our Sunday morning class we have reached the section of Renovation of the Heart where Dallas Willard talks about the social dimension of the self. Essentially, I think what he is saying and I agree with is that real Spiritual Transformation does not happen in isolation. We are formed more fully into the likeness of Christ when we are living in community with others. Confession, accountability, discernment, fellowship and sharing are vital elements to us being renovated.
I am in relationship with someone in our church who for the last 7 years has struggled to heal after divorce. She has spiraled down into such a bad place over the last two years that it will make your heart ache. We got to spend several hours this week drinking hot tea and sharing on my couch. In these settings I am usually a listener, but this night I chose to really share some of what God was laying on my heart about her situation. She was literally "gob smacked" because what I was saying to her was also what she was hearing from our Senior Minister. Now you may think there are limited words to be spoken in this settings. But God was calling both of us to talk to her about things other than her divorce and rather to focus on her spiritual life. She was amazed, I was amazed but God wasn't. Dan and I are not working in cahoots with her, God is using community to speak a word to a hurt heart and He is using community to help her discern it. Don't you love that.
And then yesterday was Senior Sunday. I cry as I see the pictures of the kids and hear the great things they have to say. I cry harder when I hear what the parents have to say to them. Altogether it is an emotionally exhausting day. But yesterday I was struck by the community experience. I love that we can flood the aisles and lay hands on the kids or the person in front of us who in turn lays hands on the one in front of them, and so forth. I love that at this church it really is true that it takes a village. One senior mentioned a thanks to her second parents and then named about 6 families who are actively involved in her life and have in some way raised her. Inspiring. Last night at the Senior Banquet we were invited to sit at the table of one of the girls graduating because we are close to her family. We shared and laughed and cried. And we ate off special plates. You see this family has a tradition, the oldest daughter painted a set of plates, one for every family member and set her table with those several years back at Senior Banquet. The younger sister set her table with those also and added a few more. One for her best friend and some for us, the Kasselmans. And in doing so, she spoke words of community, family, love and creativity.
I believe completely that when we are less concerned about boundaries and more concerned about living fully in relationship with others, we allow God to transform us in ways that can not be done in other settings.