Sunday, May 2, 2010

A New Neighborhood

We are temporarily living in a new neighborhood. All the houses are neat and well kept, though some are a little shabby with age. The gates and fences around them are shiny and very high. If you walk around the fences it is hard to find the entrance gates or how to enter because the latches are missing. It is as if they are only opened from the inside.

At closer examination, there appears to be some tunnels between the houses. Certain paths beaten between neighbors, but even those paths have high and shiny fences lining them and there are no gates to those.

There is an apparent friendliness to the residents. If you are passing by, a few might come out of their yards and greet you in the usual pleasantries. Their best welcome is at their weekly meetings at the community clubhouse. Every week they gather together to say hello, to welcome new comers, to restate the community rules and to collect money for common projects.

At those weekly clubhouse meetings I am always looking to the current residents to ask me over. After all, I am the visitor, the newbie. I figure they will want to invite me to their homes and introduce me to one another and get to know me and my family. I want to find out what books they read, what interests they have, and what are the common goals of the community. Is there something here that we could contribute to or they could teach us? Is there some connections we have or ways that we can encourage one another in our life purposes. If we are to live in this community, what are its goals and vision for community life? And isn’t the current condition the manifestation of what that vision is and how it is being lived out?

Yet, after two months, after attending the weekly meetings, what I am discovering is more of a grief and woe to me than anything to induce me to want to keep living there. No one has ever invited me into their own home. No one comes out of their shiny fence to show me who they really are or to find out who I really am. The club meetings appear to be mainly social and to accomplish little to channel the people into community living. They have their groups that do meet, and there is no entrance into those unless you were there when they were originally forming. It seems I must knock on all the gates and fences and ask to be let in if I am to form any kind of relationship with these people that I would be living with if we settled here. And I know that if I did all the work, knocked on all the fences, invited all the residents to my home, we still would not be included into their social circles. It would be a rare thing to happen and I am not sure that is what I want at all. In fact, living here temporarily is causing me to consider what it is I really want and what I really think is right when it comes to community, especially for a Christian person.

What I am describing is indeed a Christian community otherwise called a church. And it is a grief to experience.

----posted by Queen Lucy


AnnaS said...

I am sorry to hear that. I am convicted in my own heart that i need to be more friendly and invite new people to my home. I am so glad that I have gotten to know you. I truly enjoy being around your family. AnnaS

Anonymous said...

ps- in defence of the church, I fear that you are looking for perfection. None of our churches will be perfect. This is where Grace comes in our daily life and the hope of heaven is SO sweet, Wont it be wonderful there?

AnnaS said...

oooops, I clicked the wrong button. that was me, not anonymous. love, Anna

Caer Clan said...

Anna, dear, thank you for your kind comments. I have been accused before of looking for perfection in the church. I understand that the minute I walk in, the church loses any perfection it might have had! So perfection is not on the top of my list of wants. I realize at this stage of the game that we will not find a place that has everything we want. Yet, hospitality is a command. It is a requirement of an elder. It is a frame of mind, and attitude of heart. Augustine was greatly influenced to conversion not by Ambrose's amazing preaching and powerful words, but by the love that Ambrose demonstrated to Augustine. I encourage you to set aside even one Sunday a month where you will plan to invite even one family or person over to share even a humble soup at your home. Love is the center of Christianity and is the core of the two greatest commandments. What hurts most is seeing a people whose lips are close to God but in practice whose hearts are closed to others. I grieve more for their state than my own. Thanks for listening!