"The word community has many connotations, some positive, some negative. Community can make us think of a safe togetherness, shared meals, common goals, and joyful celebrations. It also can call forth images of sectarian exclusivity, in-group language, self-satisfied isolation, and romantic naiveté'. However, community is first of all a quality of the heart. It grows from the spiritual knowledge that we are alive not for ourselves but for one another. Community is the fruit of our capacity to make the interests of others more important than our own (see Philippians 2:4). The question, therefore, is not "How can we make community" but "How can we develop a nurture of giving hearts?"
-Henri Nouwen

Henri Nouwen does it again. As someone living in a new city for the past 6 months building community has been one of the main, if not the main focus of life for me this past half of the year. The importance of community is something I read about, hear about, and talk about often, it seems to be everywhere! It is especially quite the hot topic in Christian culture, as it should be, I suppose.
I confess that I have spent much of the past 6 months thinking of community as something I must create for myself, not a quality of the heart. Frequently my thoughts on how to develop community are "how can I make community" and "who are the people here like me and meet my standard of what a good friend is and at the same time can meet my needs relationally".  Maybe I should be thinking "how can I develop a nurture of giving my heart" and "community isn't about or grown out of self satisfaction, it is about and grown out of a heart that loves others as Jesus would." It seems as if the answers to those thoughts are what will develop a lifestyle of community. So, here is to 2012, the year of developing a nurture of giving hearts!

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