That was the song sung to me some 22 years ago. I was an excited and slightly daunted 27 year old, finally taking the plunge of moving into a new community house family called Chosen Pearl, in Sheffield.
We don’t sing it that often these days but when we do it always takes me back to that moment: my bank account had been closed and the few possessions I had moved into my new room. In the house, I was a joining a family with three (soon to be four) young children, two guys under 30 years old and one veteran in his mid-30s who’d been living in community in Northampton for many years.
I remember being moved to tears with the awesomeness of the step I had just taken. Although I’d house shared at university, this was different. This time I was throwing my lot in financially and personally into an attempt at Acts 2 ‘all things in common’ intentional Christian community. I knew I was responding to a personal call from God that I first heard as an 18 year old to: “Seek first the kingdom of God.”
Now, 22 years later, I’m married and my husband and I have recently moved into a community house family near the town centre of Northampton which comprises of: a family with three young children, three guys and two girls under 30 and one woman who’s a veteran of community, plus a couple of guys who are trying community out.
It all sounds very familiar (except now I’m 22 years older!) There was still the same sense of excitement and mild trepidation as we took the step. Any of us who have chosen to follow God will know that as well as being a daily choice, there are significant points along the journey when He faces us with the choice to continue or turn back.
As I sang this song again recently, I took time to reflect – have I still left it all behind or is there stuff I’ve picked up again? Am I still laying down my life, denying myself for the good of others? Have I let difficulties and disappointments nourish me and become food for others or has it left me dry, bitter and cynical? Is Jesus being glorified in my choices and decisions or am I just going through the motions dutifully?
Entering middle age it’s all too easy to ‘settle down’ and look for the comfortable options with the justification: “I’ve done my bit, now it’s the youngsters turn; I’m getting too old for all the late nights and busyness.” I know because I’ve heard myself saying it at times.
In the secular world, mid-life justifies you to make all kinds of life-changing decisions and do some crazy things all in the name of clinging onto your youth. So why not move in with a bunch of younger people exploring how community could find a new relevance to a modern generation? Why not dare to believe that all that I’ve learned and experienced isn’t all that God has in store for community or for my husband and I? Why not venture out of the armchair of my comfort zone and plunge myself into new relationships, new ways of doing things, a new more central location with a sense of adventure?
This quote from Jean Vanier struck me recently and reminded me of why I first embarked on the adventure of all things in common intentional Christian community:
“We’re losing something about community, about accepting people who are different. If we have a culture of winning, a culture of success, a culture of knowledge, those who have less knowledge are not winning. So we’re in a culture of huge divisions… I knew that to be a Christian we should live with the poor and be a sign of love to those who have been discredited and pushed away” *
It’s early days and I’m sure I’ll blog more about it but for now it’s great to be refreshing the call I first heard and immersing myself in this new challenge, trusting that the God who’s been faithful these last 22 years won’t abandon me now.
* Taken from an original article produced in The Globe and Mail on 22nd December 2016: “Jean Vanier’s comfort and joy: What we have to do is find the places of hope”