Recently I was reading through the Mennonite Hymnal and came across this really beautiful prayer (# 736) that says simply:

God of community,
whose call is more insistent
than ties of family or blood;
may we so respect and love
those whose lives are linked with ours that we fail not in loyalty to you,
but make choices according to you will,
through Jesus Christ. Amen

I was struck by how the prayer begins by calling God a “God of community.” As I thought about what this means I realized that when I think of God I usually think of a single god, which is true but misses the fullness of what is. God is singular, but is of such infinite being that God has generally been understood to be (at least by Christians) three distinct persons yet only one God at the same moment. How exactly do these three distinct “persons” form one whole God? I honestly have no idea, but I think part of the answer can be seen by Christians who not only go to a church building together; but share all of their lives together in community.

I have been living here at Lotus house for almost six months now and trying to think about how to sum up my time so far. What I have thought of is that our house is trying to imitate the dance that the three persons of God do in unison so that the three parts can make one whole with no distinctions between the two. There is an old Greek word for this that dates back to early church leaders: perichoresis. The word can mean unity, but I have heard speakers and writers use it to describe a beautiful dance between the three persons of God. I like the image of a God who likes to have fun and dance. Even more, I love the thought that God can dance with more than one “person” at the same time. Nobody gets excluded or even told to wait their turn to dance. All the persons who make up God get to dance together.

I feel like living in intentional community is like learning how to do this kind of all-inclusive dance. The problem is that humans are not God, therefore we do not dance with the kind of Grace that God dances with. We try but we are not as good. Our selfishness stops us of from being able to dance with more than one person at a time. I believe that the best way to go against this is to confess to one another. I don’t like to confess to having left dishes for someone else to wash. If that is hard to confess, then how much harder is it to confess to something serious? It is this kind of embarrassment at not knowing how to dance that makes me (and I imagine others) want to leave the community lifestyle for something easier like living alone in a one bedroom apartment where it is harder to upset people; therefore easier to avoid confessing. The truth is that this kind of dance is not just hard to learn but also very tiring. However, I feel like that is the point. Jesus calls us to live a difficult life. We are not meant to settle for a “community” of an hour or two on Sunday and a game of softball. We are called to share our whole life with one other just as God wholly shares with God each of the three distinct persons that complete the trinity of what is God.

I don’t mean to write this and come off as better than anyone just because I live in intentional community and others don’t. I guess what I want to say is that Christians are called to be wholly invested in one another’s lives; like family but even deeper. It is not only biology that links us together, but God who links us together. Being linked together makes us all collectively stronger, and therefore better able to live out the calling of God’s will in all of our lives. The more intentional we are about sharing our lives together the better we imitate the dance of God. Even though we will mess up a lot, I cannot help but believe that God is pleased with our willing obedience to want to learn the dance. God may even be laughing with us, not at us, but with us.