Archive for September 15th, 2022

Christian Community


Written by Chris Webb, a contemporary Benedictine Anglican priest, author, speaker, and teacher.

The ancient church has taught us much about the val­ue of care­ful­ly craft­ing the archi­tec­ture of our com­mu­ni­ty life inten­tion­al­ly and delib­er­ate­ly. Some of the great­est pio­neers of the Chris­t­ian spir­i­tu­al life — such as Basil of Cae­sarea, Bene­dict of Nur­sia, Augus­tine of Hip­po, and Fran­cis of Assisi — dis­tilled the wis­dom gleaned from ground­break­ing exper­i­ments in com­mu­ni­ty into their reg­u­lae or com­mu­ni­ty ​‘Rules’, the doc­u­ments in which they encap­su­lat­ed the essen­tial rhythms of a shared life in Christ. They learned that it is pos­si­ble to turn our pat­terns of activ­i­ty into a pow­er­ful cat­a­lyst for spir­i­tu­al development. It is impor­tant to under­stand that a Rule in this con­text is not a legal­is­tic set of instruc­tions keep­ing the com­mu­ni­ty in strict order. It is more an evoca­tive descrip­tion of the way a group of peo­ple might live togeth­er (and their rea­sons for desir­ing to do so): an invi­ta­tion to com­mit our­selves to one anoth­er in a par­tic­u­lar way. Think­ing of the wood­en rules used to draw a lev­el, straight line in geom­e­try, Bene­dict wrote of his Rule: ​“it is called a rule (reg­u­la) because it straight­ens out (diri­gat) the lives of those who obey it.” A good Rule guides peo­ple with­out con­fin­ing them. It is pos­si­ble for any church, con­gre­ga­tion, group, or team to draw togeth­er their own Com­mu­ni­ty Rule — whether a detailed descrip­tion of com­mu­ni­ty struc­ture and life, or a loos­er, cre­ative expres­sion of the rhythm and val­ues which we seek to embody. Our com­mu­ni­ty may have thou­sands of peo­ple, or just three or four. We may share a home togeth­er, or live in the same neigh­bor­hood, or be spread across a town or city, or even be dis­persed all around the coun­try and beyond. No mat­ter. It is still pos­si­ble for us to cre­ate a com­mon pat­tern of life, built around our shared pas­sions, val­ues, and com­mit­ments, which help us cre­ate a more Christ-immersed life together. Shap­ing such a Rule can be both a chal­leng­ing and an extreme­ly reward­ing exer­cise. The pat­tern of life expe­ri­enced in many church com­mu­ni­ties is usu­al­ly some­thing that has evolved rather hap­haz­ard­ly. Our dai­ly, week­ly, and annu­al rhythms are formed by clus­ters of activ­i­ty that have slow­ly coa­lesced over the years: ele­ments of church life we assume to be indis­pens­able (Sun­day wor­ship, youth group, com­mit­tee meet­ings), par­tic­u­lar min­istries for which some­one or oth­er has a spe­cial pas­sion (mis­sions prayer group, prison vis­it­ing, meals for the house­bound), and stuff that is just plain fun (soft­ball team, church pic­nic, the annu­al Super­bowl par­ty). All these have a valu­able place in a church’s life. But the over­all pat­tern of activ­i­ties also shapes the way we will fol­low Jesus togeth­er. It is worth think­ing about shap­ing that rhythm more intentionally.


Written by St. Patrick (AD 385-461), a Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland.

May the Strength of God pilot us. May the Power of God preserve us. May the Wisdom of God instruct us. May the Hand of God protect us. May the Way of God direct us. May the Shield of God defend us. May the Host of God guard us. Against the snares of the evil ones. Against temptations of the world. May Christ be with us! May Christ be before us! May Christ be in us, Christ be over all! May Thy Salvation, Lord, Always be ours, This day, O Lord, and evermore. Amen.

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