The challenges of buidling community
Some fragments ofreflection on the divisions of the Church during the week of Paryer for Christian Unity.
Our experiences of moral failure, group meltdowns, personal pettiness, and partisan harshness in congregations and communities make us wonder if our efforts in building community are worth the trouble. We often invest great hope in our Christian communities, and when there are serious ruptures, it feels as if part of the kingdom has been trampled. How is it that people who want closer relationships and deeper experiences of shared life sometimes find themselves in terribly difficult situations — sorting out betrayals, broken commitments, and creeping cynicism?
Growing into the likeness of Christ and into the church as it is supposed to be cannot be separated from the messiness and disappointments that are part of human relationships. We can protect ourselves from such difficulties only by cutting ourselves off from our relationships, and that is rarely a satisfactory option. Nevertheless, we can build and maintain congregations — just like we do with marriages, families, monastic communities, and businesses — in better and worse ways. Good communities and life- giving congregations emerge at the intersection of divine grace and steady human effort.