Tuesday, December 09, 2008

3: Virtues of Community

So we know that we are after this thing called Authentic community. But what are the virtues of Community?

I have been inspired by many a theologian, and many a thought. I have enjoyed reading the St. Stephen's blog, SNU's theology, Jurgen Moltmann, and many other formative ideas. What is the core of community? Authentic Friendship.

Authentic Friendship: what exactly does it mean to have authentic friendship?

The ability to laugh: This entails a level of comfort in which one can know all the different nuances of another's world so that they know how to interpret the context in a humorous detail. This is also knowing boundaries and offenses, as well as shared views of the world. However, this can be very surface, just being able to pick up on who someone is.

Table Fellowship: This is barbaric at the least, and putting one's skills of cooking to the test. It is here that one cannot be too proper, lest one sets themselves above the rest. There is a moment of insult if one does not eat what is prepared. Truly, food becomes the place of great conversation. If one is to eat at another's house it is usually more of an affair of conversation than it is of eating. It is also allowing oneself to either serve, or be served, the epitome of Christlike moves. It is obvious in the sacrament of Eucharist, Breaking the body, receiving the blood, which is done at the table. I cannot get away from the fact that the "Appetizer" usually consists of a bread and a dip, a body and a blood. Thus, eating becomes a central sacrament of celebration of the community that lives in the kingdom.

Honesty: This may be the most important of qualities in a community. The ability to be honest in any situation of the way one feels or perceives. This honesty takes the ability for one to be so comfortable that they may be able to take criticism from another in a constructive way. It is also being able to risk the relationship in order to bring about a better end. It is the ability to be blunt, but non-insulting, to critique in order to build up. Here the personal/political agendas must disappear, and personal preference must be set aside, for it isn't for ME that someone should change, or be critiqued, but for THEM, and for the Community. This honesty is the ability to tell someone where they are doing well, and where they don't quite line up with the Gospel. It is the ability to understand the way Christ looks, and the way we should.

Vulnerability: This is the other side of honesty, the receiving of honesty. We must not think ourselves so important that we become callous to honesty and critique, but be vulnerable to it, able to understand the difference between Jesus and ourselves. Vulnerability also contains in it the ability to cry, rant, rave, scream, laugh, crumble, and build up. It is being able to be laid bare in front of the community and hold little shame. Vulnerability is to cry when Jesus cries, to be lifted out of the dirt like the naked Prostitute in John.

Compassion/Justice: These have to go together. Compassion is seeing a need and taking honest and just approaches to solve that need. It can be corrective, it can be benevolent. Justice is judging a situation and acting rightly within it. Compassion is trying to hear, see, and know the cries of the oppressed and acting in justice to take care of them. It isn't just putting a bandage on the problem, but trying to find the root of the problem and solve it as well. Compassion is giving of oneself for another, for the sake of the other. It should have no personal interest, lest it be the effect of happiness and joy shared by the community that one is taken care of. It is sacrificing lifestyle in order that others can have life, places of privilege so that others can have dignity.
This includes tithe. Tithe is to support the community - and honestly, if the community does not have to upkeep building and other expenses, then the community can afford to upkeep each other financially. This is key.

The virtues of Community are the virtues that we see in Christ as he walked and talked. This is following the life of Christ.

If you have more to add, please do...

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