Community: more than a tv show

coffee and soup Community is one of those words that I toss around, not always giving much thought to what I mean when I say it. I talk about it in church and small group and over lunch or a sporting event with friends. I talk about it in the public library and in my journal and even, occasionally, on this blog. I know that it's important, I know that it is something that I am longing for and excited about. I know that it gives me life.

But why?

I freely admit to being a word nerd. I would say that being an English major does that to you, but in my experience, by the time you get to college (if that is your route) it's already far too late. Word nerds, I think, are born. At least, I was.

And so I started thinking about the word community. Merriam-Webster defines community as "a unified body of individuals." I love that. I love the idea of people, real, unique people, coming together in unity. That sounds like Heaven to me. No wonder I seek it. The more I think about it, the more I wonder if that is what community is: a little taste of Heaven, on earth.

If you break down the word community, you might come across the word "commune." I'm using this here as a verb, not a noun. There are two definitions I found: 1. To be in a state of intimate, heightened sensitivity and receptivity, as with one's surroundings: hikers communing with nature (or, for me, people communing with people). The second definition is this: To receive the Eucharist, to take Communion.

Well of course.

I have thrown in my lot with Jesus, and I have entered into community with Him. To do that, I also enter community with all the other people who have chosen Jesus. We are a community: a unified body of individuals.

There is a prayer from The Book of Common Prayer, appropriately enough, that I love. It is part of the wedding ceremony, but can also be spoken over a couple when they are becoming parents, or any time extra encouragement is needed. It goes like this:

Give them wisdom and devotion in the ordering of their common life, that each may be to the other a strength in need, a counselor in perplexity, a comfort in sorrow, and a companion in joy. 


Far from being only for marriage, I think that this prayer could easily be prayed over the Bride of Christ. Us. We have pledged to live our lives in common, sharing our burdens and our joys, our perplexities and frustrations, and our strength. We have pledged to live in community.