catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 5, Num 16 :: 2006.09.08 — 2006.09.22



“Unconsciously, you may wound what you touch. Only Christ can touch without wounding.” These words to the Taizé Community written by founder and prior, Brother Roger, sum up the experience of those who try, in any form, to live in Christian community. Whether in a family, the Church or self-defined community, we rub against the uniqueness in another in a process that both injures and polishes what is there.

Over the last several months, we have been ruminating on the concept of community. As we live into communal patterns at The Hermitage, we find ourselves drawn into conversations about community and we begin testing the ideas by living them out.  The stress has been on being formed together toward union with God. The word community literally means “with unity.” So, we work together toward that one relationship worth pursuing and are formed (transformed?) in the company we find along the way.

Drawing on the basic components of a rule for life, we have defined some principles that support our communal life. The first principle is prayer. We are a community that prays: together and individually, for one another and for the world, as part of the larger Church and as a local (and very transient) expression of the Body of Christ.

The second principle of community is to love. This is not simply emotional output but the in-rushing of God’s very self (cf. Eph. 3:14-19). We strive to be opened by God and to receive God so that we may, in turn, give God to those whom we encounter each day.

A third principle is to know God. This includes study, reflection, and reproduction of what we are learning. Our study includes both the Word of God (in scripture and in the world around us) and books/articles that form us for God’s kingdom work. We reflect on what we have studied and what the Spirit brings to our attention. We reproduce what we learn by teaching others, by living faithfully what we have caught and by being aware that we are literally “bearing” God each day.

Fourth, we cultivate spiritual disciplines. Some of the disciplines most needed and practiced are personal prayer, solitude, and punctuality. Our work, too, must be disciplined so that it does not take over our life. There is time in each day to complete what must be done in that day. Living this out requires the open-handedness of release at day’s end and an entering into rest that is often pure discipline.

Submission to the other is also a cultivated discipline. Learning to temper “leadership skills” with “listening skills” leads to an attitude of waiting. The Spirit leads out of the waiting to what must be done. As we are all submissive to the Spirit we are also submissive to one another.

Finally, we must practice the discipline of gratitude. More than simple thanks, gratitude flows from the deep well of joy inside each of us. This well is where God lives, “you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11). If joy is where God is then God is where joy is. Gratitude is both to God and from God. We practice the discipline of gratitude in our meals and in our work, in our play and in our inner labor. Each day, we are conscious of God at work and in that awareness we are grateful.

David and Naomi Wenger are co-directors of The Hermitage Community in Three Rivers, Michigan.

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