Great video and the importance of Community


Ok, I officially love this video…not because I'm a great fan of riding the bus (although I did quite a bit years ago when I was in high school, grad school, and even growing up in the city of Detroit) but rather because I believe in the power of community!  

“The future of the church depends on whether it develops true community…unless we sense that we belong to each other, with masks off, the vibrant church of today will become the powerless church of tomorrow” Larry Crabb

“Spiritual community = the presence of conflicted relationships met by spiritual friendship, spiritual direction and characterized by the dependence upon the Spirit of God” – M. Scott Peck

When I was young in the faith, I got a taste of community. There were three young men who poured themselves in me as a brother, friend, and someone with whom they shared life. For two years, those relationships gave me hope, healing, comfort, accountability and, most important, a constant glance at Jesus and the reality of the Kingdom. Over a period of months, that little “band of brothers” became infectious and grew…other people wanted “in” because they saw something that they wanted and weren’t experiencing in their own life. I’m confident enough to call a spade a spade…they saw Jesus and saw the Kingdom of God. To say the least, I’ve been searching for a way to quench my deep desire for community ever since. Throughout numerous experiences, I have gotten close only to be sidetracked by ecclesiastical agendas, superficiality, and a host of other relational elements that caused community to break down. I’m tired of empty feelings when it comes to community – it has been my dream for a long, long time to enter anew into redemptive and Kingdom community before I reach the end of my earthly journey. I want to take the vision of scripture for a “ride” and find any way I can to experience the sense of awe, power, and satisfaction that comes in living in the flow of what Jesus created for us to experience. I promised the Lord that I would pursue that dream in my family’s most recent move and transition in life. We were created to experience oneness with God and each other. It is only when we enter into that oneness do we experience the fullness of life that God intended for us. I also realize as someone who takes the scripture seriously that we need to have the quality of community that incarnates Jesus and gives people an opportunity to see something that can only happen because of God. Relationships are difficult because of the essential brokenness of humanity. That’s why Christ-followers cannot tolerate having community that is anything else than a glimpse of the Kingdom. We need to be inviting people into an experience in relationships that actually transcends anything that can happen without the presence of the Holy Spirit. To have relationships like “everyone else does” does not give witness to the lives that Jesus calls us into. The following statement is a set of values that are non-negotiable in our belief about community. Community is transformational. We single-mindedly pursue the unity of love and the missional and incarnational witness of community in the context of our lives together in Kingdom living.

I know that that is alot to chew on..but take a bite and taste the vision of community!  Jesus said, in fact He prayed, that we would be ONE in faith and in love.  John 13 – "love one another as I have loved you."  The thirst of community is not for those who are lonely and afraid but rather for those who dare to say that they follow Jesus.  Christianity is a relational journey created in the image of a God who IS eternal community (we call that the "Trinity").  

If you want MORE info on the vision of community, download the document that I have imbedded in this post.  

Download Visions and Values of Community

Selected Readings for Easter – Following Jesus in the words of the sages of the past!

Cross1Bernard of Clairvaux expressed his love for Easter in this way in his hymn, "Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts" (11th century):

We taste Thee, O Thou living bread,
And long to feast upon Thee still;
We drink of Thee, the fountainhead,
And thirst our souls from Thee to fill.

Teresa of Avila wrote (16th century), 

"Christ has no body now, but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth, but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which
Christ looks compassion into the world.
Yours are the feet
with which Christ walks to do good.
Yours are the hands
with which Christ blesses the world." 

Let nothing trouble you,
let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing;
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing:
God alone suffices.

Francis of Assissi claimed in reference to the resurrection (12th century), 

The safest remedy against the thousand snares and wiles of the enemy is spiritual joy. 

Igniatius of Antioch (1st century), 

"I prefer death in Christ Jesus to power over the farthest limits of the earth. He who died in place of us is the one object of my quest. He who rose for our sakes is my one desire." 

Theodore the Studite (Byzatine Greek Monk, 8th century), 

"Brethren and fathers, the day of Easter is drawing near…are we pressing forward to reach the Easter that comes and goes? Have we not achieved this year after year? The present Easter too will pass, for there is nothing lasting in the present age, but, All our days pass like a shadow, and our life travels like a rapid rider, until it has driven us to the final boundary of life. What, someone says, is Easter not to be desired? Of course, it very much to be desired. How could it not be? But we accomplish Easter every day. And what is this? Cleansing from sins, contrition of heart, tears of compunction, a clean conscience, the death of the parts of us that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and any other evil that is at work. One who has been found worthy in all this does not Easter and celebrate a much longed for feast to the Lord just once a year, but, we may say, does so each day.  Someone, on the other hand, who does not have all the foregoing, but is held fast by the passions, cannot celebrate. For how can someone celebrate whose god is their stomach? Or who is aflame with fleshly lust? Or melted by the heat of jealousy? Or drowned by the love of money? Or enslaved to vainglory? Or caught up by the other passions. No one could possibly say that someone with a high fever was at rest, or that someone shipwrecked was making a good voyage. It simply isn't possible. It is impossible for someone who has become dark to be enlightened, or for someone possessed by sins to celebrate. But for you, brothers, we are confident of better things, ones that promise salvation. For our way of life is nothing other than preparation for the Easter feast."

John Chrysostom (4th century), 

"O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep."

Ambrose of Milan (4th century), 

"…Now since you are celebrating the holy Pascha (easter), you should know, brethren, what the Pascha is. Pascha means the crossing-over, and so the Festival is called by this name. For it was on this day that the Children of Israel crossed over out of Egypt, and the Son of God crossed over from this world to His Father. What gain is it to celebrate unless you imitate Him Whom you worship; that is, unless you cross over from Egypt, that is, from the darkness of evildoing to the light of virtue, from the love of this world to the love of your heavenly home?"

Anonymous, 5th-6th Century

"Having seen the Resurrection of Christ, let us worship the Holy Lord Jesus, the only sinless one. We worship your Cross, O Christ, and we hymn and glorify your holy Resurrection. For you are our God, we know no other but you, we name you by name. Come all the faithful, let us worship the holy Resurrection of Christ; for behold through the Cross, joy has come in all the world. Ever blessing the Lord, we hymn his Resurrection. For having endured the Cross for us, he has destroyed death by death."

Augustine of Hippo (4th century), 

And he departed from our sight that we might return to our heart, and there find Him.  For He departed, and behold, He is here.

Martin Luther (16th century), 

Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in spring-time. 

John of Damascus (7th century), 

"Now let the heavens be joyful, Let earth her song begin: Let the round world keep triumph,  And all that is therein; Invisible and visible,  Their notes let all things blend, For Christ the Lord is risen. Our joy that hath no end."

Gregory the Great (6th century) prayed,

It is only right, with all the powers of our heart and mind, to praise You Father and Your Only-begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ: Dear Father, by Your wondrous condescension of loving-kindness toward us, Your servants, You gave up Your Son. Dear Jesus You paid the debt of Adam for us to the Eternal Father by Your Blood poured fourth in loving-kindness. You cleared away the darkness of sin By Your magnificent and radiant Resurrection. You broke the bonds of death and rose from the grave as a Conqueror. You reconciled heaven and earth. Our life had no hope of eternal happiness before You redeemed us. Your Resurrection has washed away our sins, restored our innocence and brought us joy. How inestimable is the tenderness of Your love!

Hippolytus of Rome (2nd century)

Christ is Risen: The world below lies desolate
Christ is Risen: The spirits of evil are fallen
Christ is Risen: The angels of God are rejoicing
Christ is Risen: The tombs of the dead are empty
Christ is Risen indeed from the dead,
the first of the sleepers,
Glory and power are his forever and ever