Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Community


Community is food and low blood pressure. We gather to eat and visit with one another. Since we feel comfortable with one another and open to the newcomer in our midst, we enjoy a lack of stress. We feel relaxed, at ease, be it sharing stories, worshipping or in a learning situation because we trust the process.

The mass is celebrated in a way that fits the people who are gathered. There may be little local customs that have developed over time. The theology of worship is understood and accepted. As I travel around to different parishes I see little customs that have taken hold in that particular community. The social gatherings have an openess to newcomers because there is a sense of security and comfort among the "regulars" that connects to mission.

Where the "in" crowd does not open itself to the newcomer in the room, be it a social dinner, coffee and donuts or parish meeting, then it is a "clique" closed in upon itself, and not a community. We must remember that everyone was new at some time in the past. A community has a mutual support so that it is willing to risk being open to people who feel like outsiders. Teenagers, adolescents, young adult singles, divorced are examples of people who are not sure if and how to fit into a community.

Where outreach is always being done by paid church workers, instead of the community member's volunteer ministry, you fail to connect worship to ministry. The parish becomes "our" parish", the people’s parish, when the worshippers do the outreach ministry. Otherwise, how do you connect people to the mission of the parish? Financial support alone does not build community. Prayer, fun, learning and mission are all part of the same package.

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