Living in Community
Recently I have been reflecting on Matthew 16 to 18. In this "Fourth Discourse" section of the Gospel, Matthew helps us struggle with the realities of trying to be a "Community." His words remind us that we are continually working on "survival tactics;" We struggle to discover what our individual role is in this place and how we are going to live into it. We are literally re-learning how to live/function with a whole new community. Learning how to live and work and serve in this place, in this community, is no easy task.
A part of what makes that so difficult is the variety of backgrounds, experiences and cultures that we bring to this community. It is what makes LSTC such an exciting place, but it also makes community tough. Peter and the disciples remind us how quickly we can move from being the "rock" to becoming a demon! The keys to community are communication and forgiveness. And Matthew lays out an incredible process for forgiveness: going immediately to the one who has hurt us, or the one that we have hurt, to talk with them directly; and if we can’t work our way through that barrier, to bring a third, neutral party to mediate our disagreement. Wow!
It is important to note that forgiveness isn’t a matter of "bean counting;" it is a radical shift in our entire being. It is a reminder that we have been forgiven; it is an openness to others who may have hurt us. It is a reminder that Christ is in this place --"wherever two or three are gathered…." And that makes all the difference. Not only is Jesus in this place but Jesus is the center of this community or better yet the heart. The heart that strengthens us as the people of God to live together and to forgive each other.
Living in community is never easy but God is here with us. When the morning overwhelms you and the stress of this place becomes unbearable you can walk into chapel; you can run your hands through the life giving water in the font. You can make the sign of the cross and remember that you are God’s child and "I am" is here with you. You can sit in those chairs and hear the life giving Word of God preached from the lips of your professors, colleagues, classmates, and friends. You can come to God's table and receive the life giving meal of bread and wine, Christ's body and blood given for you. You can gather with and love and forgive this community of believers genuinely and sincerely, because each and every one of you are mine and I am present here strengthening and supporting and loving this place. Thanks be to God.
Director of Field Education