I contemplated a few subjects on community life and decided my best initial theme for Easter weekend was Thankful!... I am extremely grateful for my network of incredible life-giving communities, an upbringing where service was modeled as a high value and a faith base which gives me new life every day through the richness of a reconciling cross and a savior that bore my sins upon it. It does not get any better than that!!!
So, that said, I would like to encourage you all this week to think about your life stories. Are they going as you had hoped or planned? Do you live a rich, service-oriented, thankful community lifestyle? Our lives are much more vibrant when we live life fully modeling service to others, seeking justice and creating community networks. It's part of God's divine plan. He wired us to live in community and find joy in serving others. Yet, we live in a very self-centered, consumer-oriented culture that even permeates the church. Many of us get trapped in our own personal entitlements that limit community life and service. I do... I own it! I want stuff I see, my home the way I want it, inspiring travel, lots of enlightening education, a church sermon fix on Sunday morning; and, of course, my own time to play tennis and garden. It is a daily battle to temper these desires. And, for me, it includes a strategic plan of meditated "being" time with God and purposeful service, seeking justice for others. Service to the poor is the only thing that seems to heal the depravity of my self-centeredness in our crazy culture and truly live a focused, God-centered, justice-based lifestyle.
The other thing I am thankful for this week is my CCDA(Christian Community Development Association) community group. I have been in church most of my life; but, I never fully understood the full counsel of God, His justice system, and holistic service to others until I started hanging out with these folks. Now, my affluent lifestyle is Wrecked(the "and" in my title!)... I have to live differently!! And, I have come to embrace the word Shalom and the joy it brings. This is from CCDA founder, John Perkins..."When God called Abraham to bless him, and to bless all the nations through him, he employed the notion of "Shalom". This Hebrew word, in time, came to mean everything good you would want for yourself and wishing that same quality of life for your neighbors and friends. We have been called to be a blessing to the urban poor, a blessing that includes everything that is good and wholesome. Our notions of Christian community development will look different from place to place, but some of the essential blessing we are called to bestow upon the poor include dignity, power, education, employment, health, security, recreation and beauty. The world will run to a church that loves in such a wholesome manner as this."... Are you living the joy of this Shalom in your life?
Abundant Easter blessings!!!