Community – Definition/Explanation

I have long worked with various groups including the Church who have worked to find a definition of community. The consensus most times is that it is indefinable, but it really is not. You see most if not all of these attempts have come by trying to define/explain community within the framework of the mission or vision of the group; and in the process they set up barriers as to what community could or should be, in short they make it indefinable or settle for a meaning that while not totally incorrect is at the very least ambiguous which takes away the power of the word.

To me as simple as it may sound, community is: Coming together as one; being united together as one for the good of all or for the good of the community.

I believe that by defining it differently or ambiguously takes away the power of community. It is detrimental to the idea of community anywhere and everywhere.

Community is about bringing together a vast array of people with various inclinations in thought and life and bringing all those individuals together to do what is best for the good of the whole; of the community. This involves sacrifice from all sides for the good of all.

Defining community any other way sets us on the road to diminishing the influence that community brings to bear on life.

Scripture tells us that love of each other; of neighbor; of enemy is this most important thing that we are called to do and that this is best learned/formed in the environment of community.

Peace

Inspiration for this comes from living my life…

Also credit goes to R.A

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…striving after the wind…

Striving after the wind in Ecclesiastes is seen as being  synonymous with vanity.

In all his wisdom Solomon never seemed to find the true peace that he was seeking.

The key though was his seeking, his striving after.

What I learn most from Solomon is that seeking and striving is our toil; our work under the sun.

I further learned from Solomon that the most important day is today. 

So today I will strive after the wind, I will struggle against forces of the world that hinder me.

But obediently I strive all the same.

For I know that I strive not alone, for it is the end; the why; the telos for which I strive. Vanity, while it may seem to be the goal or is it the means, ultimately becomes not important.

It is the the seeking; the striving together that guides us toward the ultimate goal; our ultimate end…

As Solomon further says in closing his writing of Ecclesiastes:

For the end of the matter has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

Every breath I breathe

Every word I speak

Every act of love

May be my last…

And if those thoughts are not in my mind, I know confidently that God has written them on the tablet of my heart.

Peace…

All is Vanity Today

These words of King Solomon are just as true today as when they were written thousands of years ago. Each generation has its own set of problems/issues and each must deal with them with the means that are available to them today.

Yes history is important and learning lessons from history is important, but let us not kid ourselves for each generation is also a new generation, with new problems and also a new means to solve those problems.

Or are they new ? The problems and the means I mean…

People are still people with eyes to see and ears to hear and mouths to speak, are they not?

Yet, our problems (the problems of being human that is) remains and always will for that matter.

For I stand in agreement with the Preacher.

For I stand in agreement with God.

And I am grateful that when everything else is gone, that love will still remain…

For all is indeed vanity and God is Love
1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
2
Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
3
What does man gain by all the toil
at which he toils under the sun?
4
A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.
5
The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
and hastens to the place where it rises.
6
The wind blows to the south
and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns.
7
All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they flow again.
8
All things are full of weariness;
a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing.
9
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
10
Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has been already
in the ages before us.
11
There is no remembrance of former things,
nor will there be any remembrance
of later things yet to be
among those who come after.

Ecclesiastes 1:1-11English Standard Version (ESV)

Peace

Pondering -Brother or Friend

What is the problem with the church today?

What is the problem with the world today?

In the Gospel of John 15:13-15 (12-17) (ESV)

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not chose me, but I chose you…

Why does Jesus change the relationship status here, from servant to friend?

Everytime that I read this I always see “brother” here in the place of “servant”, I know the text says servant, but brother keeps coming to mind for me. Maybe it is just me thinking sonethibg into the text that I want there, but I believe that it is something more.

Those that Jesus had personally called had made a decision to follow Jesus, to become his disciples. Here in this text though something changes, Jesus says “No longer do I call you servants… but I have called you friends” – stating that “for all that I have heard from the Father I have made known to you.”

Indulge me in throwing my spin on this.

At a certain point in time the relationship changed, but why, I believe the disciples were still disciples but now Jesus also considered them to be his friends, the basis for this seems to be one of knowledge, they now have intimate knowledge of him that they did not have when they had started following him some three years before and based on this knowledge they were now considered by him to be his friends.

Follow me still please.

While Jesus called them, each still had to make decision(chose) to follow him. Now as each had got to know Jesus, the relationship grew from one of just follower to one of follower and friend. The relationship had been elevated by thier intimate knowledge of Jesus, he knew them and they knew him. Jesus considered them friends.

Why it that distinction important in the brother or friend question?

It is important, because it shows an important relationship shift in the life of disciples/followers of Jesus and for the church his body.

To be continued…. still pondering

Telos – Why (?)

Telos – the end to which we do anything; the ‘why’ we do what we do

Why – for what reason or purpose.

In my opinion it is the most important question one ever asks.

Why brings meaning and purpose to life.

“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” – Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Please ask why…

WHY?

 

 

 

 

Empathy and Everyone (Born to Love)

Whether you are a person of faith or not should not really matter when it comes to empathy. Faith tells us that we are created in the image of a loving, caring, compassionate God, thus we are created to be loving, caring and compassionate as well. Science I believe points us in the same direction, empathy is part of our physical and psychological makeup; we are indeed born to love.

We also know that we live in a world where both of those realms (faith and science) are influenced by the world in which we live and that in both realms or realities things can and do go wrong.

In faith, if people have not been brought up in an environment of love and stability and empathy is not learned or modeled or ingrained in them. When this happens n people of faith stray from the way that is intended for them.

Scientifically or medically things can also go wrong if a person’s physiological make up is damaged either genetically or through traumatic injury, it can cause damage to the areas of the brain that control empathic responses.

Both faith and science point us toward the conclusion that we are indeed born to love, and when something goes wrong in either area, things in the world are not as they could or should be.

Both from a faith and a science perspective the corrective work is one of restoration of things to the way they were always intended to be.

We are born to love…

Neighborhood Pastor – Missionary – Advocate

I have for about the last 13 years been working at defining the work that I have been charged with at Drexel Gardens Christian Church. The following is a summary of where I am at in that process as of today 5/10/17:

 

I am the pastor for the people of Drexel Gardens Christian Church, meaning that I am called to care for all of those who share in our fellowship here. I am a teacher, I am a preacher, I am a facilitator of care giving, I am one who disciples, I am a disciple; I am a lover of all the people here.

I am a neighborhood pastor, which to me means that I am called to care for and love all of our neighbors who are a part of our neighborhood.

I am a missionary to neighborhoods, meaning that the work that I am called to do, while primarily for the Drexel Gardens Neighborhood, also includes work in other neighborhoods and/or communities where restorative work is needed.

I am an advocate for not only our neighborhood, but also for the very idea of what it means to be a neighborhood.

I am a firm believer that we are and I am called to “seek, work and pray for peace in the place where God has sent us, for in its peace we will all find peace.”   – paraphrase of Jeremiah 29:7

 

#RecoveringAddict

Would it be that we were all recovering addicts and willing to share our story’s. 

Because the truth be known we are all addicted to something, but we put a nicer spin on on them by labeling them as habits.

I do believe that to be addicted is to be human and that even in the most positive of things that our addiction(s) can take control of one’s life.

I further believe that the only means of overcoming addiction  (learning to live with might be a better way of wording it) is to relinquish control to what we recognize as our higher power and for me that is God.

But why is it important to make this recognition (of being addicted), I believe it is important because in most recovery circles a key element of recovery is confession and testimony, it is the sharing of one’s story of making one’s self vulnerable, so that healing and recovery can take place. 

Hello, I am Gary, I am a recovering addict and I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. 

For those who may be wondering, yes I have been and I am still addicted to a number of things, but I am in recovery…

... confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed. … from James 5:16