At church this morning, an issue that was swimming through my mind was individualism and community.
The hymns that we sang this morning largely seemed to focus on the individual's relationship with God. God loves me. God has forgiven me. God has taken care of me. God will lead me
through death into the good afterlife. The sermon also struck me as
rather individualistic, in that it was about personal repentance.
some level, I like this. I often get tired of reading Christian
authors downplaying Christ as our personal savior, promoting instead a
more communitarian outlook. The reason for my sentiment, as I've
expressed before on this blog, is that I'd like to believe that God
loves me personally and can relate to me as an individual, whether I am
accepted within a community or not. I also find it cozy when I sing
hymns by people who are reflecting about God's love and care for them
personally. Moreover, in my opinion, certain tasks are individual, in
that nobody else can do them for me: I need to have faith and repent.
It's good to have support on this journey from other people, but the
tasks, in the end, are my own (though, of course, I have God's help).
yet, there was one communitarian element in this morning's service.
The liturgy for the Lord's supper said: "Create in us a new community of
abundant love, that we may be life-giving disciples of Christ, one with
each other, one in unity with You through the Holy Spirit, and one in
ministry to a world that hungers for grace and mercy."
this "one" stuff scares me, to tell you the truth, for I'm against
homogenization. But unity does not necessarily have to entail
homogeneity. Unity can be people loving each other, recognizing the
value of loving each other and being concerned about the lives of other
people in the community, and seeing importance in reaching out to a
world that needs love and even concrete help. How people pursue this
goal may vary from person to person, as some are more extroverted than
others. But, in my view, the church should be a community that is
united around this goal.
St. Paul’s Letter to the Bergmans
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