One of the beautiful things about community is being able to share meals and conversation. I find it comforting and encouraging to know that the early Christians valued this interchange. I love this scripture from Acts 2:46
“Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,”
That is the experience I am having with folks at Reba Place Fellowship.
Over a simple but satisfying breakfast of oatmeal and granola, Sally and I had another of already many enlightening conversations. I feel so grateful to this kind, capable woman for taking me under her wing and sharing with me so much about a variety of topics that I am passionate about. She has her finger on the pulse of what is happening both in RPF and the whole body of Christ especially in relation to peace churches and community.
This morning we talked about the Ekklesia Project Conference http://www.ekklesiaproject.org/ways-to-engage/ which is starting today. If I had read about this conference on line, I would have said, “There’s another conference I would like to go to–but I don’t have the funds or time to attend.” But here I am , able to go to a few sessions for free. I could go to the whole conference if I wanted to, but I am here to explore and experience intentional community. Here is a description of the conference:
“At this year’s Gathering, we will examine concrete ways to make peace in our churches, neighborhoods, country, and across the globe. For, as Bonhoeffer reminds us, the Peace of Christ must be practiced, or it is no peace at all.”
Sally shared with me the encouraging news that this gathering brings together people of many denominations including Catholic, Pentacostal, and Methodist. An increasing number of Christians are waking up to the fact that the nonviolent, peace-making teachings of Jesus have been largely ignored by many who preach the gospel. This is good news indeed!
I was intrigued by Sally’s explanation of how theologian and professor Paul Alexander had read John Yoder’s writings and discovered that his own denomination’s roots were pacifist in nature. Here is something I found on this website: http://www.apu.edu/media/news/expert/13600/
“As I started exploring Pentecostalism’s anti-war, pro-Jesus preaching, I was challenged to reconsider my own theology and ethics. This effort led me to become very involved in peacemaking, conflict transformation, and justice work. I felt like Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians should learn about this part of our heritage and perhaps reinvigorate a peace with justice witness in the 21st century,” said Alexander.”
Sally told me about her own experience of being raised in a church which was quite patriotic. When she came to RPF, she was a bit disconcerted by the teachings about pacifism, but she was willing to learn more, coming to a conviction that this was truth. After all, the early Christians were against war according to articles such as this one http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=115 Jesus clear teachings were to love your enemies, turn the other cheek when violence was imposed, and return evil with good. LIke the bumper sticker we used to have on our truck said, “I think when Jesus said to love our enemies, that means not to kill them.”
I feel so at home in this environment where my values of peace, justice and ecology are shared in a Christ-centered, loving context. If I did not have family and friends who I love and want to be with in Fayetteville and the Living Springs area, I would be tempted to look deeper into joining this community. I just feel grateful that RPF is committed to helping people like myself who want to form community, and so I have more confidence than ever that my dream of intentional Christian community can happen in my geographical location with my family, loved ones, and many who will come.
Well, I am off to help a community member with a project. I am curious and excited to see how I can help.