Note from Pastor Chris Bannon of The Commons Church:
What is love? And moreover, what does it mean to love a PLACE? A PEOPLE? A CITY?
Love is more than sentiment. It is more than warm feelings; more than the sweetness of nostalgia or affection. While these feeling and experiences matter - it most certainly does matter to my wife how I FEEL about her - the substance of love is not found in the FEELING, but in the LIVING. It is found, in fact, in the day-to-day tangible acts of surrender and self-giving for the sake of the other.
My personally held, warm feelings are nice. But sometimes, rolling up my sleeves and digging into a sink full of dirty dishes counts for a whole lot more.
If just genuinely loving another individual is a complex and costly calling, how are we to wrap our heads and hearts around what it means to love a CITY? In all its potential and brokenness, beauty and ugliness, celebration and frustration: when we say that as a church we are called in Christ to LOVE Rochester, NH ( or wherever else we find ourselves made neighbor ), beyond merely fostering warm feelings for this place ( which, some days can be challenge enough! ) how do we imagine that we might even BEGIN to make such a calling, such a love, effectively and experientially REAL?
On Wednesday at our annual "Horizons" Vision & Partnership gathering, as a body we *officially* voted to lay the groundwork for the brand new WOVEN COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION as a non-profit subsidiary to The Commons. What WOVEN is, what it will mature into and become, is a multi-faceted thing: an organizational home for a number of different "big picture" initiatives, dreams and partnerships that the Lord has laid upon our heart. But at its simplest, WOVEN is the beginning of our best attempt to answer this question: What does it mean, and what sort of TOOLS and resources will it take, for the church of Jesus Christ here in Rochester to truly LOVE our city well?
The beginnings will be small. And, there will be a whole lot of learning, experimentation and stumbling along the way. But in this choosing, committing to begin, we have declared our conviction that the love of Jesus for his people - for his WORLD - and for this our city, is not a flimsy, hypothetical or sentimental manner of thing. We declare our conviction that, in Jesus, we come to know and embody the Love of God in all its earthy, gritty, tangible and immanent REAL-ness. This is Love, up to its elbows in a sinkful of dirty dishes. This is Love, with mud on its boots. I, for one, am eager to see the ways this Love will lead and shape, bless and challenge us in the days ahead!
In Christ, with You,