Community is defined as “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and goals. In a geographic sense we think of neighborhood, villages and maybe even a small rural county. When I taught in a Parochial School I taught with Felician Sisters. They signed their names and under the signature was written. CSSF. It means the Community of Sisters of St. Felix. They were an order of Nuns who worked primarily in Education.
There are many communities around the world of Brothers and Sisters who belong to a religious order. They may be educators. They may work in medicine. They may work in Social Services. Some communities work at hospitality. Some communities are cloistered and spend their days in work, worship and prayer. These communities have helped people for hundreds of years. There were ancient communities in the deserts of Egypt and other areas. They were called the Desert Mothers and Fathers. Many were hermits (oxymoron ) who prayed and became spiritual directors for people. They spent their lives trying to be Christ Like. I remember back when soldiers returned from Vietnam. That community was not welcomed back properly to the states. And now I am thinking of the community of Baltimore. Some people are out for themselves and others are in community as they work on forgiveness and healing, and solution to social justice problems.
In John 17: 6-19 Jesus prayed for the Community that He assembled while on Earth. He prayed for the community of Disciples. He prayed that His Heavenly Father would protect them because He knew He would soon suffer and die. He said that the disciples had obeyed the Father’s word. The disciples believed that Jesus was God’s Son sent to redeem the world. Jesus claimed His glory came from the disciples. He distinguished this community from the rest of the world. We sometimes say that Disciples are in the world, but not of this world. That means that they are primarily concerned with Spiritual Kingdom life rather than physical, earthly concerns.
Jesus prayed for protection for the disciples because people and systems would hate them. People will also hate present day disciples who are true followers of Christ. The major protection for disciples is that their faith is based on the Truth which Jesus proclaimed. Jesus ended the prayer with verses 18 and 19. They read, “ You sent me into the world. In the same way, I have sent them into the world. I make myself holy for them so that they too can be made holy by the truth.” So my question is how are we going to make sure that we focus on the Kingdom Community which is the Community of Believers? AMEN!
Father Ed Murphy, Shared Episcopal Ministry