Back on the subject of community… I think I first broached here in March 2009 and it has not been far from my thoughts since then.
A friend made an interesting comment the other week. This friend is most assuredly not connected in anyway to a Christian or religious community and would likely run the other way if I were to suggest a visit to a church or meeting with too many religious folk. I, on the other hand, have never been shy to mention in my friend’s presence the fact that I have received great benefit from church communities and love being a part of one.
I tagged along to a 100-mile dinner party last weekend. It was a birthday celebration (a celebration where I did not know the birthday boy) and potluck where people were invited to bring dishes made from ingredients produced within 100 miles. It was a veritable feast and some wonderful experimentation happened. During the evening, we ate a lot of food, some excellent conversations happened and I met some very interesting people, some games were played, and then I needed to go home (1:00am is quite late when you have to be at church at 8:30am). As we were cycling away from the home where the dinner took place, my friend said something like, “Environmental people are a pretty good and responsible group to spend time with. It is the best community to be a part of.” I know I am off on the wording, but the gist of what I took from the statement was a gybe directed at religious groups (a fairly common occurrence in our discussions) and a statement advocating community and belonging.
Here we had, on a Saturday night, a group of about 20 young adults, in the 24-30 range, gathering together to share around something they are passionate about. There was good and engaging discussion. There was food. There was a common purpose. It was fun.
But it also felt like it was lacking. Yes, I can get behind no-waste initiatives. I can agree with a moratorium on offshore drilling on our coastline. I am all for urban sustainability projects and food security. However for me it goes deeper than that. At the heart of all of these discussions, I always come back to Christ. Why do I care for people and for the environment? Because of my faith in God.
If I didn’t have that hope and that knowledge of my future, I am not sure that I would see the purpose of environmentalism. I would have loved for discussions at the 100-mile dinner to go beyond the surface to more fundamental questions of life and belonging. These questions need to include discussing how we relate to and deal with the environment, however they cannot be isolated to them. These are questions that are best answered in community because community can be the core force needed to jump-start any initiatives. Community strengthens, supports, challenges, and encourages. We need more of these types of communities – with Christ at the centre – that are unafraid to challenge the status quo on all issues. That is a community I would be a part of.