A Community of Believers

No man is an island.  We exist in a society, in a community.  We grow up in a family, in a community of people.  As a Christian, we must live in a Christian community.  The Christian religious experience is always lived within a community.  Individual spirituality leads to a commitment not merely as an individual, but to the larger community of Christian believers.  Even the hermits understood that they shared in the larger Christian community.  Just as there is no religious practice without a religion, there cannot be any Christian belief except within a Christian community, a Christian Church.  An individual and communal faith goes hand in hand, not face to face.  God created us out of love, so faith is within a community.  If faith is not communal it is not complete.  Nevertheless, nearly half of American Christian believers are not affiliated with a church, because we live in a highly individualist country.  There is a certain hypocrisy that allows each of us to define our morality as what we would like to do.  We have lost the sense of personal and social responsibility for the common good as “me” and my individual personal experience becomes more important.  We are social by nature and need the common experience of worship.

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The Gift of Faith

Christian faith is a gift from God.  We do not earn it.  However, we can refuse this gift.  We must accept this gift with our mind, our heart, and our will.  Our whole person believes in Jesus Christ.  My mind believes that it is true.  My heart says I trust.  I will love and have a concern for others.  The initial Christian faith is a gentle longing, a search for meaning.  For some it comes in a blinding flash, like the apostle Paul.  Dorothy Day (1897-1980) found it working with the poor, while others see it in the presence of a priest or minister who witnesses to goodness, or at the time of a tragedy or death.  Still others grow up within a cultural community of Christians that grows with them throughout their life.  My faith in Jesus Christ is a continuous growing mysterious reality.

 

Yahweh was compassionate (Ezek 16:6-16:7)

“I passed by you.

I saw you

Flailing about

In your blood.

As you lay

In your blood,

I said to you.

‘Live!

Grow up

Like a plant

Of the field.’

You grew up.

You became tall.

You arrived

At full womanhood.

Your breasts

Were formed.

Your hair had grown.

Yet you were naked.

You were bare.”

Yahweh passed by this infant Jerusalem in the field, flailing about in its blood. However, Yahweh took compassion and told the bloody baby in the field that it should live and grow up. So this baby Jerusalem grew up like a tall plant in the field. In fact, this baby girl grew to become a woman with fully formed breasts and long hair. However, she was still naked and bare.