Sunday, September 7, 2008

A New Community

My friend Garrett and I are starting a new discipleship group tomorrow evening. It will be smaller than the one pictured above, and I'm praying for a few other differences, as well . . . community and missionality for a start. Everybody staying awake would be good, too, though we'll let the dog sleep if she wants to.

I recently read Henri Nouwen's book, Can You Drink the Cup?, and found his description of community to represent one of the things I greatly desire for this new group:

Nothing is sweet or easy about community. Community is a fellowship of people who do not hide their joys and sorrows but make them visible to each other in a gesture of hope. In community we say: “Life is full of gains and losses, joys and sorrows, ups and downs – but we do not have to live it alone. We want to drink our cup together and thus celebrate the truth that the wounds of our individual lives, which seem intolerable when lived alone, become sources of healing when we live them as part of a fellowship of mutual care.”

[Community is] a fellowship of little people who together make God visible in the world.

So often we are inclined to keep our lives hidden. Shame and guilt prevent us from letting others know what we are living. We think: “If my family and friends knew the dark cravings of my heart and my strange mental wanderings, they would push me away and exclude me from their company.” But the opposite is true. When we dare to lift our cup and let our friends know what is in it, they will be encouraged to lift their cups and share with us their own anxiously hidden secrets. The greatest healing often takes place when we no longer feel isolated by our shame and guilt and discover that others often feel what we feel and think what we think and have the fears, apprehensions, and preoccupations we have.

The important question is, “Do we have a circle of trustworthy friends where we feel safe enough to be intimately known and called to an always greater maturity?

Vulnerability, growth, and mission. May they all be true of our new group as we seek to follow Jesus and be transformed into His image.

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