Growing Community… being invitational

Again writing on the subject of community (intro here, second posting here, third).

This last Sunday at our Sunday night gathering, we talked about what makes for good community. What do you long for|hope for in community? What makes for community that changes people for the better?

Concluded: to hope that community will change someone is not to offer them loving community. To truly love, we do not wish to change someone but to accept them where they are. Yes we believe love changes, but it is not for us to change, but simply (or not so simply) to love. As Paul says, we love because God loves. We love because Jesus loves. That’s it. Loving so as to change someone is to put a condition on our love… no longer unconditional love.

This next week we will be asking the question:

How do we grow community? What does it mean to be invitational?

We talked about this last Sunday, as we wondered if it is really possible to be completely inclusive. After all, what do we do with those who are exclusive and come into our community and want to force others to be a certain way? Do we continually include them? What if someone chooses to exclude themselves from the community? Can we be inclusive to them if they are exclusive to us? One person said that it may not be feasible this side of heaven.

I would like to think that truly being inclusive or unconditionally loving is possible in this life. What must not be done, though, is sitting with open arms and telling all to come into our embrace. Many will not. I think we are meant to bring this love to the world. We are meant to carry it… to pursue others with love. Not to the point of having those say, “Get away from me you scary loving person, you… you stalker…” but to the point of continually offering open and hospitable spaces, as Nouwin says, where people can find themselves free.

This must be something that we become. It must be our very being to be invitational. Not invitational into our program, or our way of being… but invitational into the soul. Invitational into discovery of who the other is as an individual. Also, invitational into a community where one can love and be loved. It is something that we bring with us always because it is who we are. When we begin to be this, others cling to it. They long to join in this loving way of being.

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