Monday, February 15, 2016

Listening for Community (A Chicago Encounter)

Where do you find community?

A member of the St. Luke's community spoke one day about how she found community on the CTA.

The CTA?

I ride the CTA a lot.

It really made me think . . . .

*    *    *

We had been studying the story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well.  We asked, "Where is the 'well' in our community?"

What I find memorable about that story is how Jesus appears to be really listening. (You can tell from the woman's amazed reaction!)

So what would happen if we really listened . . . at the 'well' in our community? . . . on the CTA . . . at Starbucks . . . . ?

*    *    *

I had gotten on the bus to ride 3 stops to the laundry.

I apologized to the man who had two cups of coffee on the rack next to the first seat -- the rack where I plopped down my laundry bag. "It's just too heavy to carry!" I said. He said, "You're only human . . . . "

Then he told me he was laid low when a car hit him -- he had to go to the hospital and have an operation on his hand.

He showed me his scar. It was on the underside of his wrist.

We had gotten to something pretty essential . . . within moments!

Afterwards I wondered at how we could have covered all that in just a minute or two -- the time it takes to go a few stops.  After all, when I walked onto that bus we were strangers.

I thought of the words of a music composition I often listen to by John Adams, "Christian Zeal and Activity." It includes a recording of a preacher, and the looped recording of his voice keeps circling back to the story of Jesus encountering a man with a withered hand. "Now what's wrong with a man with a withered hand?" the preacher asks. "Why would Jesus . . . . "

You can listen to it here:

The images that accompany this video -- together with the music itself -- are making me sense an invitation to a much wider field for conversation and listening.

To be continued . . . .

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I believe when Jesus broke the bread and poured the wine and said "Remember me this way," he was much more interested in encouraging us to keep having conversations -- conversations that really matter -- with others . . . and finding ways to be in relationship with our neighbors  . . . all the while reminding us "never underestimate the power of food"  . . .

(See Get Outside Your Comfort Zone and Have A Conversation Today (Welcome to the Ministry))

As I walked home from today's service, I replayed the service in my mind. "The part about the visitor card was pretty good . . . " I thought, "and yet . . . visitor card . . . ? Maybe it's not really a visitor card . . . . Maybe what we should be calling them is participant cards."

(See Being Church in Logan Square, Chicago: An Ecclesiophilic Reflection )

"Could it possibly be that we're not supposed to try to hang onto people? Is is possible that we're supposed to prepare people, and then let them go?" 

(See What I Learned in Church (7 Habits) )