These are some brief notes related to my August 31 sermon, part of our series on the “Seven Values” that guide us as a church.
Our Anabaptist heritage has had a strong focus on community. Positively, this has nurtured faith and relationships that have endured some very difficult circumstances. Negatively, this has too often created an exclusionism that pushes away outsiders or an authoritarianism that uses fear and guilt to keep the status quo.
Changing realities in our world have changed the way people think about community. Urbanization, globalization, individualism, and more have all affected how we seek and find community. People still long for community, to share life together with others, but this looks very different now than it has in the past. Unfortunately, new ways of finding community are still fraught with the same perils as the old ways—abuse, exclusion, fear, guilt—only now they are often topped off with profound loneliness and despair.
A Christian understanding of community is based on a few key realities. Cultural expressions of community may change, but these remain, continually translated into our diverse and changing human cultures.
We are all created in the image of the triune God. Just as God is community, one God in three persons, diversity in unity, so God has created us to be in diverse yet united community with other persons.
This “diversity in unity” is a core idea of true “community”: we are not all the same, we can in fact be very different in many ways, and yet there is something that draws us together, something that unites us.
At a very basic level that “something that unites us” is simply our common humanity—we are all human, created by God in God’s image. This is important to remember, because it is so easy to de-humanize others outside of our group.
But as a distinctively Christian community, we can push this further. As Christians we “share together” or “hold in common” a particular way of being human: following Jesus and Jesus’ way of love.
And so we strive for community as those created in the image of the triune God, being human together in the way of Jesus: delighting in each other, gathering together, rejoicing with each other, mourning with each other, helping each other, forgiving each other, loving each other.
At Morden Mennonite Church we value community. We delight in each other, and we gather together regularly in worship, in service, and in recreation. We rejoice with each other, we mourn with each other, we help each other, we forgive each other, we love each other.