January 4, 2012

United in Christ - A Renewed Vision of Community

Copyright Cheryl Weaver 2011 used by permission
"We are United in Christ"
I wouldn’t call my recent trip to Haiti a mission trip. We did have a mission of sorts when we collected Christmas in backpacks for the kids who live and go to school at the community called Canaan. Other than the Christmas party, we had no real plan for what we do there for five days.

Truthfully, this concerned me before we left. I asked our team leader, “What are the expectations for our team from the leadership at Canaan?”

His answer came quickly, “They see Canaan as a community and it is their desire for us to feel at home there. They want us to join them in what God is doing during the days we live and work with them.”

We pulled into Canaan in the dark. The next morning it took me less than an hour to realize that I was about to experience community like I never had. And that feeling of fellowship, of working together to accomplish God’s purposes day by day would teach me more than I could have dreamed.

There are times we don’t need a plan; we need a vision. When we can see God's hand working, then in our gifting, we know how and where to join him.

Ann Voskamp shared on her blog that her word for this year is “koinonia,” the Greek word for community.

Ann has lots of community inside her house homeschooling her kids. But after reading her blog and her book, One Thousand Gifts, I know that learning to live in community may not be as comfortable for her as taking a photo of “slips of cheese.”

I first discovered communities in the blogging world when I stumbled upon “The High Calling” website (but not actually through StumbleUpon. I was stumbling before I knew what I had done had become a proper noun.) I hadn’t seen anything like it on the web. Intrigued by the community’s writers and those who commented, I loved their intellect, their artistic nature, and the encouragement they expressed to one another. I bookmarked the site on the header my browser. Whoever thought of this type of community was brilliant. And I had another good reason to give up reading magazines.

But I can’t say I totally understand community in the blogging world as I have linked my blogs and commented. I really connect to the words and pictures of the blogs I most often drop by. Many times I have thought that maybe I am a better at leaving a comment than writing a blog.

What I do understand is that behind the words of the blogs are people. People who are in some ways probably a lot like me. Others are very different. All made in the image of God, reflecting something of His nature in their stories and photographs. I am inspired by them, learn from them, and often think that their life expressions have pushed me to allow God to be bigger in His world.

If you are one of the people I write about today (you have seen me hanging out at around your blog) I want you to know that even though I still question my place at the table, I love the places you have set. They bless me and I am thankful that the people of God have found a voice in this place. But not just a voice, many voices that together share his light in such varied and beautiful ways.

God has challenged me to consider again the importance of community when I was at Canaan. What does it really mean? And how best can I live out community to the glory of God?

God has already redeemed so much time I wasted when I lived not trusting him, my heart at arm’s length from everyone around me. He punctuated the end of 2011 with this word upon my heart: restored.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:10-11)
Restored. Now what?

I don’t have a plan. I need a vision.

My heart cry is do “this one life well.” And I want to do it well and in the company of others, in community.

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