This year I’m living in an intentional Christian community. It’s called the Compass and you can find us opposite the main sorting office (PostOffice) here in Chestefield. The property is owned by a Christian Charity, and it’s a converted pub. The accommodation is upstairs and at the outset the pub part was a Christian Cafe. The idea was for it to be a ‘gathering place’ for Christians to meet non-Christians etc. Sadly right now the cafe is no longer running. More on that another time.
What does living in an intentional Christian community mean?
Different things to different people I’m finding out Only this summer I presented an academic paper at a conference called Power and Difference and there I used my friends at the Palace in Turku as an example of how a local expression of new monasticism can and does make a difference in the community.
The Compass isn’t there yet. Or perhaps it was – and has simply lost its way momentarily. As one of us said the other day – “we’re a bit in limbo”. So rather than reaching out I’m finding that living here means reaching in and reaching up. Reaching up to God – because without Him it’s all a waste of time, and reaching in – as in into the community itself.
I think the first step is spending time together and learning to listen to one another. And that’s not as easy as it sounds. For starters we are busy people. And secondly we might listen but we also interpret – which means that we don’t necessarily understand and communicate well. At least not the first time, or the second … or the third.
What I’m finding though -and this is so encouraging – is that setting time aside to discuss how we’re doing really helps, particularly when that time is followed by prayer and then food. Yes food. Jesus loved table fellowship and so do I. Mealtimes build community. Yesterday one of the community cooked freshly picked corn-on-the-cob grown by a relative. It was delicious – and sacramental, every bit as precious as sharing communion on a Sunday cos God was in our midst.
here by the grace of God …