Building Community

I can hardly believe that it has been a year since I first moved to Warrenton! This time last year I was getting to learn all sorts of new names of roads, and people! I was also starting to read through the 40 Days of Community planning materials.

We spent 6 weeks last fall in prayer and Bible study learning more about building community. I know there are some new friendships that have come from that experience. Ultimately it does take more than just 40 days to really form community…but what does it take?

One fellow blogger has started a list.

Some things are simple, like “shop local.” Before living in Warrenton I don’t think I’d ever run into anyone I knew at the grocery store, but now I’m practically guaranteed to see someone I know! I enjoy the chance encounters and see how it helps folks connect on another level.

What else does it take to build community? I’m a big fan of, “make extra and share.

I would add to the list, “laugh together, serve together, and eat together.” One of the best experiences of community that I’ve had was playing bridge and having dinner with the same group of friends every Thursday night for my first year of seminary. Over the course of three hours we would laugh and de-stress from our week – while being able to share the stories of our lives. Now, we’re spread throughout the world – one friend serving as an Army chaplain stationed somewhere in Iraq, another friend finishing a doctorate in North Carolina, and finally, one friend living and working in New York. Even though It has been some time since we were all together in the same place we’re still there for one another by phone/email. It isn’t quite the same. I imagine it the reason why God knew that to have the right relationship between people and God it would take a visit in person. Communication through Scripture and Tradition wasn’t enough anymore.

We see in scripture the way early Christians built community (Check out Acts 2:44-47 where they sell all their goods and hold all things in common!!).

What does it take to build community in our world today? What do we need to add to the list?

The power of prayer

Has anyone ever asked you to pray for good weather for a picnic? Or, for a certain sports team to win a special game? I don’t know if all Christians get those requests, or just pastors…

I’ve had to tell a few non-Christians that prayer isn’t magic – we don’t say a few special words and then miracles spring forth into this world. I’ve also had to tell a few Christians that God isn’t like Santa Claus – “if you’re good you get what is on your wish list.”

Instead, prayer is a powerful connection between God and people. A time when people rely upon God’s strength and not their own. It can shape us: our hearts, souls, and very lives.

One of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott, claims the two best prayers she knows are: “Help me, help me, help me” and “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

I admit that for a lot of my life all my prayers fall under those two headings…sometimes a little bit of each in both.

This has been a week filled with “help” prayers…I know two different families in our church family with newborns undergoing heart surgery, and a number of adults have been admitted to the hospital this week. However, it is also filled with lots of “thank you” prayers! For God’s healing touch upon some of those patients, for the gift of community – people who helped me move to my new apartment last weekend, and for awesome parents who celebrated 30 years of marriage this Tuesday.

There’s much more to prayer than just those two prayers…but they sure are a good starting point!