I remember a college professor once telling us, “Fellas, if you highlight everything, you’ve highlighted nothing.”

Well as I read this chapter I had to avoid the temptation of highlighting every line. Charles Moore, a pastor in the Bruderhof community, takes community life with the utmost seriousness. It is his life.

He starts with the essential questions:




Moore asks these questions because as Christ followers, forming real community is what we are called to do:

“Jesus prayed that we might be a community, that his followers would possess the togetherness and love and unity that he and the Father have for each other.”

In order to form such a community, there are certain givens:

*Time: Members have to be willing to spend substantial time with each other, to rub shoulders with each other, to pray together, to put up with each other, to work together.

*Space: “Unless we are physically present in each other’s lives in the same physical, social space, community will only be skin deep.

*Sharers of the Word: “. . .governed by the Word and seeking to obey it together.

*Sharers of possessions: Community members move away from the mentality of personal ownership and strive towards shared possessions. On a spiritual level, they share the “possessions” of the burden of their sins and weaknesses with each other.

Moore sums up simply and profoundly, “The Christians’ love for one another was not in words but in deeds—real, physical expressions of care and service.”

I suspect that Moore would have some suspicions with a group like our EOC. He states that if folks aren’t proximate to one another, there can’t be real community. I get his point as a committed member of the Bruderhof community. I visited one of their communities years ago and was impressed by the intensity, authenticity and joy with which they live authentic community life—they are all in!

At the same time, I think Moore really challenges us, and other communities rooted in the New Monasticism and Monasteries without Walls, to look at our community living and ask how authentic it is.

No, we don’t live in proximity. But we can constantly reflect on how well we are doing at giving time to each other and how ready we are to be there for those who call upon us, to share burdens, to hold each other accountable to life rooted in the Word and expressed in concrete action.

Moreover, as a member of EOC, I can ask my membership in the Community is bearing fruit in the way I live my life at home, with the communiy(ies) to which I belong: Do I strive for authentic relationships, rooted in the Word and in the truth which flows from the Founding Document and from living the Vows? Do I make real space for those in my home community or only space that is convenient to my preferences, temperament and personal schedule? Am I making sure that I don’t just talk about Community, I don’t just talk about the Word of God, but I give real, daily “physical expressions of care and service?”

It takes work indeed!