Introducing our community house

Principal author:
John L. Clark

This past Saturday, my housemates and I hosted a party to celebrate our acquisition of a house in which we've been living together in community since July 27. Part of the plan for the party was to put together a speech in which we introduced what we want to do with the house and the community. We each wrote up our thoughts; what we actually presented was an edited combination of these. I provide my original thoughts below, which I think stand well on their own.

Friends, welcome and peace to all of you. We want to live differently from mainstream culture. There are a lot of reasons for that, and I could easily rant on about them for a while: I do like to discuss life and society, as you may know. This house, then, and in particular our life here, is one part, one step, towards that goal. You might well point out that it doesn't look that different. There are many things we want to do here, only a few of which have yet begun. We would happily discuss our reasons and our hopes in great detail; truly we invite you to please engage us on any and all of this.

I want to drop at least one hint, though. There are significant problems in our society. And for a long time, I believed without much question what I had been taught and led to believe: that this society provides the only viable ways to solve these problems. Many people still do, perhaps including you. It is, however, not true. And so we aim to live differently; as one fictional wise man put it, we “aim to misbehave”.

For any of a number of reasons, the following may make you uncomfortable, if the preceding has not already: we submit to the teachings of Jesus and we believe in him as the source of our salvation. We are saddened to know that religion, very much including Christianity, has been abused to quite evil ends, but we also need a moral core for our lives, and our own examination of the teachings of Jesus and the context of his life leads us to believe that he calls people to live differently in a uniquely powerful and beautifully good way: a way that, it seems to us, not many people take seriously. Yet we believe in that way. In part, that means that we want to serve you, but it also means that we want to challenge you. In full, that means that we love you, but some of the responsibility falls on you to investigate what that action really means to us, and what it can mean to you.

Our current sketch outline of a rule of life does not explicitly specify a formal religious framework, but I think you can see where it is derived from the teachings of Jesus. Our devotion thus far has been consistently rooted in the Christian tradition. I want to offer a prayer, then, to help guide and direct our celebration. I make this prayer; you are free to support or reject it as you will.

This is my own attempt to reach for direction and meaning in this moment; I welcome you to simply observe my attempt, or to stand with me in my attempt, as you choose. I use inclusive language in this prayer; decide for yourself whether you wish to be so included.

Holy God, who proclaims strength through weakness, who teaches mastery through servitude, and who calls each of us by name, help us to have the desire, the patience, and the courage to listen for your voice in the many ways you speak in the world. Give us the wisdom to understand what we hear, and strengthen us to leap from our conviction into proper action. Please comfort us in the endurance of the truth and in the nearness of your family whenever we may feel embattled and alone. In all things, may we do what is right and just in order to experience your glory. Amen.

Friends, there is a lot here, and these are only hints. Please follow up on them with us. Please challenge us to meet our own goals, and even challenge the nature of those goals. Truly, we want to live in communion with one another and with you, mediated by a shared moral understanding. This communion extends beyond this house; it is merely one place for some of us to live. I hope it is clear that we take this seriously. In turn, however, this gives us all the more cause to celebrate joyously. Celebrate with us, and consider with us what life should look like, going forward, in all of its many paths.

I was particularly pleased at how well our three independent attempts to introduce our community aligned with each other. It turned out to be quite easy to borrow from each in order to compile a solid overall presentation, and it is good and promising that we've come to such a close consensus. We may still have scared some of our guests. Not that it was a requirement that we not scare our guests, though.

This page was first published on 2012-09-11 15:48:00-04:00.

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