Something my liturgy professor used to always say is how people in the church always talk about building community, when in reality, community already exists because of our common baptism. The goal, stated more precisely, is to build a sense of community, to practicing recognizing the reality that already exists by virtue of our baptism.
But what does that even mean? What is it “supposed” to look like?
Growing up, community was calling all the grown-ups at church Uncle and Auntie.
It was hugs after Mass, punctuated by cheek-to-cheek air kisses.
It was going to cotillions on base, celebrating birthdays and baptisms at each other’s houses, sitting and mourning together at funerals.
It was playing softball, singing in the choir, tables overflowing with more Filipino food than was ever really needed.
It was entering into the thick of life, savoring sacred moments together.
In Compassion, it says Christian community is experienced primarily as “a deep sense of being gathered by God” (Nouwen et. al. 59).
This deeper sense of being gathered by God is something that happens when we are able to recognize that the stranger sitting next to us in the pew is our sister or brother in Christ, that we are fellow travelers on a journey, and our destinies are bound together because of our common baptism.
Moreover, Christian community takes on many different forms, and so we shouldn’t expect it to look the same for everyone:
It is important to keep ourselves from thinking about community only in terms of living together in one house, or sharing meals and prayers, or doing projects together. These might well be true expressions of community, but community is a much deeper reality. People who live together do not necessarily live in community, and those who live alone do not necessarily live without it. Physical nearness or distance is secondary (Nouwen et. al. 58).
Still so much to unpack, so I will save more of my thoughts for tomorrow!