With this post, I’m concluding my series on community. I’ve pondered priorities, society’s challenges, and sharing our gifts. In this post, I’m going to reflect on one process for living as loving companions in communities of all kinds, including Christian.

Many of you know that I’m a dancer. Movement in worship has been meaningful to me since I was a child. Richard Rohr speaks about the three persons of the Trinity as being in a divine dance. I think in dance metaphors—for example, calling the scheduling process a “calendar dance.” It’s part of who I am.

So, when someone mentioned a process for living in community that treats each other with respect and called it a type of circle dance, it caught my attention. There are three parts to this circle dance process of living as loving companions:

Reception. We receive people as they are. We welcome them into the circle of community. Rather than embracing or pushing them into a particular location or role in the circle, we receive and allow them to find their own place, at their own pace. That’s what happens in a circle dance. If we try to push it along, we will stumble over each other and people can get hurt.

Acceptance. We don’t try to change people. We don’t try to make them into the people we think we need, in or for the community. Instead, we let the community become something new with each person who joins. Each of us are on a unique journey. We each have something to contribute to the circle dance, but our contributions are different. While we move together in community, we aren’t the Rockettes. We will always be able to tell each other apart.

Challenge. There is a place for challenge in Christian community. We are called to love each other, to grow together, to wrestle with difficult ideas and experiences. We can challenge each other to grow in love without giving up reception and acceptance, which is the challenging part for us as well. We must also be willing to be challenged. We must accept what our beloved community members bring to the dance, because it is part of their life’s journey.

While this might sound pretty simple, living it out is not. There’s a lot of trust, patience, and vulnerability involved—which are characteristics not valued in much of modern America. But Jesus valued them, and we need to as well. We need to trust God and be willing to dance together if we are to live out the loving community that many Christians, from Jesus to Martin Luther King, Jr., envisioned for us.

Which of these three aspects do you find most difficult to live out in your communities? How might you become more open to that aspect?

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