Eric’s Sunday Sermon; Commonality vs Community
People normally want to have a sense of community. People normally do not want to be called common. We all think we are special and in fact a community is the only way to know. You and I have commonality and we may belong to the same online community. So what is the difference between commonality and community? Just thinking about it creates a whole new perspective.
You and I have nothing in common. Not the clothes we where, not our gender, not our age and not our religion. We are not even close in politics or modern day social issues. Yet here we are reading and writing in the same community. I even have a diverse family. Large and extended family is a community.
We like to laugh here. My wife’s translation to and from her native tongue plays tricks with “village”. Are there villages in a large town? My wife grew up in Southeast Asia in a village. Like what you would think of with huts and such. Yes mostly one bedroom concrete structures now. In her time mostly dirt floors. A wonderful place for me.
But that culture persists to modern day. And my wife declares when something is positively gossiped that “now the whole village knows” maybe something like my son losing a tooth. You see in that community losing teeth means something – I still do not get it 20 years later. But the village is what is our community on one side of our family. My side is less community and more birth commonality. Not of today but rather the past.
Commonality of the past does not make community of the present. Some events are so intense though, that a commonality of experiencing them, bond a group into community. A community that can last half a century or more, I think of WWII veterans. Although most are gone now. They are bound into a community of survivors. But can this also be by something so wonderful as being classmates through our 12th grade. Can it occur by seeing the same folks day in and day out? I walk, a lot in our neighborhood. While I do not know everyone’s name I know them well enough to return a pet and they know where I live and my son and wife. By golly I live in a common community.
Different Jobs, Same Man
Down at the Bottom
Religious communities can be awesome. You join together to share a common bond of their faith. Though no two folks have exactly the same faith, it is close enough to be common. They have stuff like prayers circles which is a smaller community of folks who pray with each other. How cool is that? The children are in the communities of youth groups. Again super cool.
I have had the pleasure of being welcome in several groups who shared the commonality of faith. Wonderful. I have also been accepted and brought into communities of other faiths. This is a splendid way to get to know cultures and other communities. Close knit communities are great.
My wife was a Buddhist when we dated and then married. A really cool culture with good community here in our city. We agreed to attend “services” in the temples. Fascinating to say the least. Although I admit to having trouble sitting and kneeling on the ground. The community welcomed us. And they provided me and some other oldies with stools. I stuck out like a sore thumb. Big old white guy attending Asian Buddhist events.
And my wife agreed to join me on our Sunday services in a church I just adored that also had a service special for Vietnamese. In that I was working half the time in Vietnam and can mumble some of that language I had become a part of that community along with the very old community of the original church.
Well my wife and I were sitting there during the Vietnamese service just as dandy as candy. And this lady came up to us. A beautiful late aged gal. And she inquired of my wife’s place of being born and raised and suggested Cu Chi Vietnam. Upon the words spoken it was an immediate recognition. This lady had helped raise my wife years and years ago. Needless to say she is now Grandma Tam and helped raise our boy.
The community spanning decades and half a world away rekindled. (soon after my wife had an epiphany and Christ through the Holy Spirit entered her soul.) I preached in that community for 6 years. Then they adopted a new sect that I cannot follow. But was I kicked out of the community – not at all. I attend the obligatory Christian holidays and the weddings and baptisms and the like. And we hold a service in our home once a year. They are my community of a few communities.
By Any Other Name
Commonality of Love
My wife loves our boy’s school. She is your archetypical Asian mom when it comes to studies. A task master extraordinaire. She also talked with our teacher almost daily. (yes I said “our” not “my son’s” I am sure you get the nuance. I was Chairman of our school council for two years and know some teachers and parents and students well. Yes it is true that the lead janitor I call friend. Jake is going on 20 years there. Know the custodians and know the school. All the juicy details.
So we have a great community of what? Education? Neighborhood? Children? Just as an aside our friend circle from there is keeping in great contact during the stay at home and alone factor. Kids with their devices and moms on phones and zooming with the teacher and other parents. Wow can they keep busy within our little village. Maybe that is community based on commonality of school.
I was at a birthday party. Rico’s. Rico is trouble with a capital T. But my son’s best friend, other than church and family community. So I was standing with this very tall black American named Frank (do they still name kids Frank?) We were laughing at the Mexican American and Filipino food bizarre trying to count the ethnic groups represented. At least 6. Yet this is our community not necessarily our commonality. But a ten year old birthday party? Come on now! Talk about commonality for us poor parents.
We are well chastened to understand that commonality of the finest sort is love. Can we just up and form a group, a village, a community and share our love with each other. Of course we can. A whole mixing bowl with just a drop of love can change the flavor and create a common taste for all to enjoy.
Nowadays there are no boundaries. Our interconnectivity is global. I suggest that it always has been in the realm of love. I share things in common with folks out in the furthest parts of earth. I share love. It binds us and entreats us to a community of humankind and beyond. How wonderful.
Yet it is so true that we have enemies within our commonality and community. Now that just seems to make no sense. Well in fact it does not make sense. We are taught to love our enemies as ourselves or at least as our neighbor. Well what if in this community of man we has no enemies. Simply a lack of exterior commonality? Your enemy does not create an enemy of mine.
So, in love today I ask you to look for commonality and form more community in love.