I took a box of books to Half Price Books recently to see what they would give me for them. My children affirmed me for culling my library! As usual, I ended up spending what HPB gave me and the same amount again to buy another book. I have been reflecting on what makes for healthy community life, and the title “Cultivating Wholeness: A Guide to Care and Counseling in Faith Communities,” by Margaret Zipse Kornfeld, caught my attention.
Chapter Two of the book was titled “The Ground of Community” and invites the reader to support wholeness in the community by being open and responsive, being a place where members can be known, learning that conflict is not dangerous, and learning to love oneself in order to be able to love others. A healthy faith community contributes to the strength and vitality of the larger community. I appreciated the section titles in the chapter:
· Community: Our Great Resource
· Communities: Pseudo or Real
· Community: Where Members Can Communicate Honestly and Without Fear
· Community: Where Members Are Able to Resolve Conflicts
· Community: Where Members Who Are Able to Love Themselves Can Love Others
· Community: The Place Between “I” and “Thou”
“The Place Between ‘I’ and ‘Thou’” echoes the Austrian Jewish philosopher Martin Buber who wrote the book “I and Thou,” an exploration of the distinction between the I – thou relationship and the I – it relationship. Buber writes that living community occurs when those in it know and are known as “you” rather than “it.”
I pray that each one of us at HMC is able to have the experience of being a “you” and is able to see others as a “you” in our community. I am convinced that, as an open and affirming community, it is critical that we are able to see beyond labels and stereotypes and encounter each other honestly and without fear.
I affirm that “God is leading Houston Mennonite Church to be a community that values and nurtures relationships and creates opportunities for others to be part of the HMC community so that we grow in numbers and vitality.”
Lee Lever, Transitional Pastor Houston Mennonite Church