Monday, February 05, 2007

community 2.0

We're working on something exciting at encounter involving small groups and community. For now, the working title is community 2.0. We want to re-learn and re-focus and re-new our thoughts on what community means in the church body.
After reading more from Blue Like Jazz the other night and considering what our plans are, I wrote my thoughts down but haven't had a chance to fully complete it. Hey - it was 2:30 in the morning and I was getting a little to sleepy for me to continue.
Either way I want to share my beginnings and get your thoughts...
Well I only thought I was wrapping up and going to bed. I just had to get up and write more. I really wish I had a passion for writing my day-to-day stuff at the paper that made me want to get up at 2:20 a.m. and write.
But on to my current thoughts.
We're getting ready to start a new push for small groups at encounter and I'm excited to see where this will lead us. I've had a couple meetings with Brian over the last week or so and we're looking at a six week, church wide campaign studying community.
So I thought it was interesting that I read some of Don Miller's thoughts on community tonight before I got ready to head to bed.
I've been reading Miller's book Blue Like Jazz for a couple weeks now. It's a great read. But it's also been a struggle for me to read. I'm not sure why. Every time I pick it up to read I've read two or three chapters and then I have to force myself to put the book down and move on to other pressing matters (usually sleep since I read before bed).
Miller tackles both loneliness and community in the two chapters I read tonight.
He begins by saying that love is a lot like heaven. As someone getting ready to be married in less than three months (WHOOO!) I have to agree.
When I was in love I hardly thought of myself; I thought of her and how beautiful she looked and whether or not she was cold and how I could make her laugh. It was wonderful because I forgot my problems. I owned her problems instead, and her problems seemed romantic and beautiful. When I was in love there was somebody in the world who was more important than me, and that, given all that happened at the fall of man, is a miracle, like something God forgot to curse.
Miller said he used to believe that loneliness was the opposite of being in love but now views it as an opposite. He said when he is lonely there are other things he craves, like community, like friendship, like family.
I think our society puts too much pressure on being romantic love and that is why so many relationships fail. Romance can't possibly carry all that we want it to.
Miller adds that his friend says the words alone, lonely and loneliness are three of the most powerful words in the English language. They are words that say we are human.
Think about that.
Miller admits that he's a bit of a recluse by nature and that after living alone for some time it was hard to be around other people.
I would leave parties early. I would leave church before worship was over so I didn't have to stand around and talk. The presence of people would agitate me. I was so used to being able to daydream and keep myself company that other people were an intrusion. It was terribly unhealthy.
Miller's friend once told him about a story she wanted to write. The story was about an astronaut working on the space station in space. Suddenly there was an accident and the astronaut is thrown out into space spiraling around the earth in orbit. His space suit is able to keep him alive by recycling his fluids so he lives on in orbit around the earth. Everyone on earth thinks he is gone and dead but he remains in orbit -- alone -- for the rest of his life. Miller's friend said she believed the astronaut's story was a lot like hell. A place where a person is completely alone, without others and without God.
After hearing the story, Miller can't sleep. He keeps imagining himself as the astronaut, orbiting the earth as his hair grows longer and longer and eventually blocks his view in his space suit. Naturally he can't move his hair out of his view because the shield on his helmet prevents him from doing so.
After I thought about Stacy's story, I lay there in bed wanting to be touched, wanting to be talked to. I had the terrifying thought that something like that might happen to me.
Many times that can happen to us. We get so caught up in our problems, in our despair, in our loneliness that we might as well be an astronaut floating around the earth in orbit for the rest of our life.
God made us to desire community. We thrive when we're truly in community.
Loneliness is something that happens to us, but I think it is something we can move ourselves out of. I think a person who is lonely should dig into community, give himself to community, humble himself before his friends, initiate community, teach people to care for each other, love each other. Jesus does not want us floating through space or sitting in front of our televisions. Jesus wants us interacting, eating together, laughing together, praying together.
Miller finishes his thoughts on community by recalling the time he spent living in community with five other men in Portland.
He had to struggle to make things work after living by himself for four years.
He didn't like them and he didn't believe they liked him.
While Miller struggled to get past his dislike for roommates and community... (z...z..Z...Z...Z...Z...Z)

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