In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Idyllic.”
“What does your ideal community look like? How is it organized, and how is community life structured? What values does the community share?”
I don’t know you, dear reader. Therefore I am unaware of your own personal experience of community, if you have lived in a structured community, or belonged to something with shared values – a squash league for example – or just lived next to the same neighbors in the same post code area. The positive and negatives that you have felt from that will effect how you answer this question.
I have belonged in some way to all the ideas suggested above. The squash league was easy. I turned, I was beaten, I shook hands, and marked the score on the board. The more informal group that I played squash with recently, you might say, bared more marks of community. Most of us (not all but most) were the same age and went to/ worked for churches. We would talk about shared experiences, or take out anger annoyances or aggression on the court rather than words that could damage. There was time for me to read around the copious research I was doing, whilst taking part. It was a community.
The last option I mentioned was the postcode area/ people on your street ideal. I feel sad I’ve not greatly connected with my current community in that way. I still work where my last flat was (its a 1.5 miles away from where I currently live) and I still end up being part of that. Next time I move I am going to make an effort to join the community on my doorstep! Not just complain about the wind chimes in it.
Finally I have lived in a structured community. My university at the time was described as a semi-monastic lifestyle. We had a shared value – Christ for all, All for Christ – we met and ate together, we prayed together, stayed up all night together, wept together, laughed together and we walked together. We would argue, be annoyed, fight, and forgive. We would attempt to share all that we could – unless it was milk!
It was filled with human people, sharing humanity. It wasn’t happy clappy smiley people all the time. It was the struggle and the picnic lived out alongside other human beings, and human doings. It could at times be lonely and quiet and overwhelming, but it was also comforting, compassionate, and real.
Every year I have spent in that community – and I still visit – this scripture was talked, or thought about:
The Fellowship of the Believers
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47 NIV)
In the middle it is there: they were together. Have you seen a group of people together. If you don’t pre warn them they won’t all dress the same, and in this election we they won’t all vote the same, and they won’t all enjoy the same sandwich toppings, they will have opinion on red sauce, brown sauce or no sauce, and an even bigger opinion on scrunch or fold. They were together. When it says they had everything in common, I think that is more likely to mean they were willing to put aside there differences for what they had in common. For a local community people put aside there differences for the good of their postcode. For the squash club they do it for a good game and integrity in that.
In any Christian community what are we willing to lay aside for Christ?
I don’t think there can be an ideal community. Community is what happens when reality happens, it is filled with beautifully flawed human beings, sharing humanity.