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God as community

God as community

“It is in God’s nature to create others to share in God’s Life” (page 47, People of the Way by Dwight Zscheile). Dwight talks about the community of God as Trinity – Creator, Son and Holy Spirit. They exist together in a mysterious community.

God is about interdependence. We who live in America, whose foundational document is a Declaration of Independence, pride ourselves on independence. The 1776 Declaration made clear our intent and desire to be independent from an oppressive imperial power. But in the nearly 250 years since Thomas Jefferson penned those words, we have built that independence into a culture that promotes individual rights over communal connection. This often results in a retreat into our own silos – our own relationships with God – and the receiving of communion becomes a private, individual experience rather than a communal one. Or retreating into a relationship with God whose activity is limited to some distant realm called heaven.

I am much taken with Dwight’s use of the word ecstasy. I have often thought of it as an intense experience that one person has – or a group has – that separates them from everyone else. Most of us are put off – or even frightened by, someone else’s ecstatic experience. But I am intrigued to learn that “ecstasy” comes from the Greek ekstasis, which literally means to stand outside oneself. Ecstasy is “outward reaching, generative and creative” (page 47). Ecstasy is designed to bring us together in community.

Many years ago I had an experience that can best be described as ecstasy. I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. And what it did – and to everyone who was there, was bring people together. My abiding memory of that event is that the Holy Spirit does one thing – it brings people together into community.


I cannot see or feel the presence of that Other unless I can perceive the presence in those around me. God is a label for the sense of being together with others, especially in circumstances that are unusual, difficult, exciting, rewarding, times that are out of the ordinary from any perspective. Today in the presence of 10 other people a woman told us of a painful new reality, that she felt no control over. The result of this was a coming closer together as a group and a realization that the response was a listening ear(s) and not a solution. This was a good reminder for many of us. God was present there!

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