Over the Christmas break I got to spend some time with my wife’s family down in Florida. My wife’s family are transplants from New York City and are a blend of Italian and Latin cultures. They are very family oriented so when they get together it is very active, vibrant, and warm.
While I was in Florida I finished Donald Miller’s book Blue Like Jazz. My understanding is this book was the hot book of 2007 much in the way that The Shack had been in 2008. Overall I enjoyed the book. It is basically a series of character sketchs strung together to illustrate Miller’s view of what community is or maybe should be in his current Christian faith journey. The book is pretty heavy on anti-establishment, anti-traditional church, and anti-republican rhetoric, however at it’s core Blue Like Jazz is really just a seeker story taking place in Portland, Oregon where all the rhetoric listed above is pretty much cultivated and ingrained in the culture anyways.
The big take away for me from Blue Like Jazz was Miller’s realization that community is the key to the faith journey. While the concept is not new or exclusive to Miller, his presentation was thought provoking and really made me evaluate who I try and build relationships with and why. At my core, I want to know others and be known by others. I think I am guilty of sometimes wrapping those desires in the context of the faith communities I plug into instead of investing in the communities I find myself in with work, school, and my apartment complex being just a few examples. I am challenged to be more like Jesus and allow myself to know and be known by whomever crosses my path.
So in Florida, my father-in-law Richie was talking to me about his days in New York. He was describing this porch he had built onto his house so he and my mother-in-law could host all of their friends over for coffee. He said “we used to have friends over so often, I would go through five pounds of coffee a week”. As I thought about what Rich had said I realized that he distilled in one statement the concept of community. He was a guy with friends, he built a porch, and brewed some coffee. No hoops, no credentials, just community.
What about you guys? How do you define community? What does community look like to you?
Grace and Peace.