Sunday, August 19, 2007

Last Name

Hello, Portland--and anyone else in the world!

From the first post you know a first name, Koine, meaning common or ordinary. Why the last name, Community?

Our world has changed considerably in the past 50 years. I grew up on a farm in Nebraska. The barn on that farm (now gone, sadly) was built in the 1930's of timbers sawn from ash trees that had grown along the Bell Creek just a half mile from the house. Nearly all of the meat, milk and eggs as well as many of the fruits and vegetables my family ate were produced within a few yards of the house. And in my parents' time even furniture, clothing and some of the farm machinery were produced locally in nearby towns. We had neighboring farm families a mile or two away with whom we would exchange help when it came to bigger jobs like putting up hay or shelling corn. I earned my first paycheck ($7.50) for raking a neighbor's mown prairie grass when it was dry enough to bale. I had trusted adults other than my parents whom I could talk to and work alongside. Sure, if I had gotten into trouble they might talk about me a little. But I also knew that they would be at church on Sunday praying for rain along with my family. And these neighbors would be there at my graduations with a gift, there to pray for me as I left for summer study in Europe or to enter the U.S. Air Force. I grew up with community. I grew up in community.

It's a different world today. Most of what we eat, wear, use and own comes from far away, perhaps not even from this continent or hemisphere of earth. When I was a youngster, a majority of Americans lived and worked on farms. Today it's a small fraction. Though physically much closer to neighbors next door or down the street than I was to my neighbors on the farm, we often know much less about each other. We live close but not cloesly, and we no longer see how our lives fit together and support one another. We care more about Princess Di and the death of Anna Nicole Smith than the terminal illness or the abandoned child losing life right next door. Our work is diverse, often intagible in the daily world we know. In short, our "communities" often lack community.

The old German proverb "Ein Mensch ist kein Mensch" says it well. A solitary person is no person. We need times of solitude and rest, for sure. Jesus regularly (perhaps irregularly?!?) sought out these respite times for prayer and reflection. But his life was lived among people, with people and for people, very ordinary people. People in solitary confinement can go more than "stir-crazy". None of us as individuals defines or embodies humanity, for humanity was created to have relationships with one another, with their world and with God their creator. We challenge and stimulate each other to creativity, to exploration of our world, to the embodiment of God's vision for life, to the expression of love.

"Grace alone, faith alone, Scripture alone" are well-known tenets of being a Lutheran Christ-follower. But "faith alone" does not mean that one can have a healthy faith when one is alone. Faith requires community. A solitary person could develop a language, but in order for that language to accomplish communication a community is required. Faith is about much more than what happens between me and God.

Today in America we find ourselves polarized, often seeking affinity as a substitue for community. The hope and vision of Koine Community is to buck the trend. We are inspired by Jesus' proclamation of the kingdom of God. Koine Community: Common folk. Common ground. Uncommon love.

Share this blogspot with friends and seekers, dear readers. Add your comments and questions. They are always invited. Soon I'll add some personal profile info, and then we'll tackle that troublesome word "Christian".


Pastor Roger

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