It is exciting to be captivated by what is going on around me, to uncover something and then realize that it is much bigger than my fickle curiosity, and much more established than the fads that I catch a whiff of. Themes have been taking shape, in the things that Keith and I have been reading, in the conversations we've been having with friends who are much more active and knowledgeable than us, and in the experience of walking into life with a new church. The idea of community that God planted in my heart back in Clemson, is growing and being challenged and expanded by my experience here in Birmingham--a very different community than Clemson--but I'm seeing threads that have remained throughout...God is guiding and teaching with purpose, which is so encouraging. Really, that's just it, the theme is community. But I am seeing it in more and more angles, with more and more questions, and more and more possibilities. Here are some of the things rolling around in my head these days.
- Living in a quasi-urban environment is not simple. It is way scarier and more humbling than patting myself on the back for driving 45 minutes to the city and giving peanut butter sandwiches to homeless guys once a week. I'm realizing that I have no idea about urban ministry, when "urban" lives next door. I want to be a good neighbor, but I know I'm not right now, and I don't really know where to begin.
- "Community" is much bigger than a group of really close friends, or even a great, authentic church. It is where we live, no one can really be excluded, and we probably need to start paying attention to each other, and how we can take care of and know each other better.
- What would it look like for there to be real harmony in our faith, politics, and economics? I'm not even going to go there on a large-scale, but on a personal scale I mean. Both how we spend, and what we buy. Not just in the sense of being good stewards of our money, but of our resources, and of what our consumption costs the community. Wendell Berry (thanks Pat and Kerry) calls it "the modern divorce between economy and religion--which is really just a version of the devastating old dualism of body and soul."
My thoughts don't do these topics justice. It's a conversation and a slow learning process.