The Practice of Community

As we gather for worship, travel for a retreat, or serve the needs of others, we experience again how the practice of community prepares us for the love of neighbor.  We are called to love our neighbor as we love God.  But this calling is not just a list of tasks, it shapes who we are and how we relate to others.  This is why the practice of community prepares us for engaging our neighbor.

We begin by practicing community, where we can learn the strength of patience, tenacity of hope, grit of grace, and commitment to service.  These are not tasks for us to master, but practices, which master us.  They shape and form who we are!

It is as Phillip Gulley writes, “It is because of our participation in the we that we learn to be an I.”  The practice of community shapes who we are as people, so we can better lean into our calling to love our neighbor with discernment and dedication.

Our interaction with others, and commitment to a common good, nourishes our souls and inspires our spirits.  We experience this in different ways whether it is participating in team sports, playing in a band, joining a supper club, or singing in a show choir.  We learn so much through our interactions with others.

For the church, our interactions revolve around our love for God, which shapes and forms our community in particular ways.  This practice of community plunges us into the love of God in ways that foster a love of neighbor.  It is why as we gather we are also sent out into the world to love others.

The “we” of the church, cultivates the “I” of our faith, which is never focused on our independence, but rather on our interdependence.  We are who we are because of the practice of community, and it teaches us to love our neighbor as ourselves.

As we practice community, we do not have to try harder or to get better.  We only have to recognize how important the community is to the love of neighbor. All we have to do is live in gratitude of it.  As we are grateful for it, the church changes how we relate to others.

-Tripp

Auburn First Baptist Church