I've been thinking a lot about community lately--which communities I belong to, how community happens, etc. Off the top of my head I can think of a dozen communities that I belong to. Seminary, Albany Park, Chicago. Online, I'm on Flickr, Facebook, myspace (barely), Hi5 (Latin American myspace). I blog and that has a communal atmosphere. I just signed up for a photoblog, so we'll see how that goes. Most of these communities have small communities too. Groups and networks abound. I wonder at how real these communities are though. How much actual connection happens. I wonder if one can truly be connected to hundreds and thousands of people behind a keyboard and a glaring screen that is probably the reason I have to wear corrective lenses.
At the same time I think of my church, which I've been meaning to write about for a while now also. I love telling the story of how I found the church, because I feel like it really demonstrates God's providence.
After coming back from Costa Rica and still not being able to connect at the church I had been at before, I was pretty frustrated and started looking around. At the end of September I went up to Minneapolis for the Desiring God Conference. I talked with John Piper and Mark Driscoll and asked Justin Taylor also if they knew of any churches in Chicago. Acts 29 doesn't have any churches in Chicago. Back at my seat I was telling a good friend about it and a guy in the row behind me heard my frustrations. Before the session was over, he told me about a church in Chicago that a buddy of his started called Grace Chicago. Solid theology done in a bit different style than usual. If anything I'd at least go check it out.
I was compelled to go, and after to introduce myself to Pastor Bob. My fourth time there I was serving coffee. By far it has been the easiest community to get involved with. Grace meets in a local theater with a full bar being the center point when you first walk in. The worship is hymnic, but set to a consort of instruments (flute, violin, cello, guitar, percussion). There is a liturgy, which I haven't been used to in a while. Bob speaks in a way that engages the listener to the Gospel and pushes us beyond a comfortable Christianity that can be explained in 3 steps. But I think the thing that really binds us together as a community is the weekly taking of communion.
This is the first church I've ever been in that takes communion every week. Some argue that Eucharist would lose it's special status and become rote. Not so! It becomes extremely restorative to stand with the church and to remember and consume the body and blood of Christ. Never does it loose its meaning, but rather, when I am away I miss it so. Moreover, it is done with real wine and sourdough bread. I have long thought this is the way to take it, but never experienced it. The alcohol leaves the taste on your palate long after consumed, while the chewy bread has real substance to it.
Beyond all the OCD checking of Facebook, Flickr and my blog statistics, where I have found true community is where communion is taken. In it, the Church comes together and becomes the body of Christ, each doing its part and functioning to benefit the whole. Where the bond is not a school or network, but where Christ is the head is where real community is found.