The question on my mind at the moment is how can you recreate something unique?
Let me rephrase it. How can I recreate something unique using different materials? In a different place. At a different time.
Let me rephrase it again. How can I recreate the kind of Christ-centred community I find myself being a part of in Stanford, in Huddersfield?
This is the purpose of my time here, to learn and find out what it is these people have that makes them like they are. In the process of mulling this over, I want to find a good analogy that will help me pin down some answers. Perhaps like a recipe, using the same outline and ingredients but made by another person. Or like an artwork forgery (ha), you seek to make an exact copy of the original, down to the last detail. Or what about DNA? The human body is made of hundreds of completely different parts, but each one of them contain the same DNA code. Each part is unique and distinct but is essentially made from the same ‘stuff’.
I like this one. I think it’s used in the Bible somewhere too.
So what I don’t want to do is recreate a mouth where there should be a kneecap. That is not how a body works. What I want is to find out what makes the mouth mouth-ey, and the knee knee-ey. What is the DNA that makes each part what it needs to be? What is the essence that makes this community what it is, regardless of the people or location?
In one sense, that last sentence is completely ridiculous. There is no way I can recreate Stanford in Huddersfield because the crucial thing about a community is the people, so what I’m after is impossible. I can’t uproot and relocate 40+ people. Another important piece of the puzzle has to be the location, because each place has particular opportunities and problems. Huddersfield is a very different place to Stanford, and the ways of serving and blessing the people there won’t be the same as here.
In another sense, the desire to find the ‘essence’ is not a futile exercise. If, as I believe, all good things in a person come from God, then finding and encouraging those things in other people is a possibility. All the good I see here in Stanford is replicable. And though the ways of serving might look quite unalike, the needs will actually be the same: love, significance, security etc.
What I find in these folk around me that have already begun to feel like family is this: Jesus. And what is it that we share and give to those who are in need? Jesus. In him we find the essence of our communities, our gatherings, our conversations, our serving, our prayers, our mission, our music, our friendships, our-selves.
He is the DNA. We are the flesh and bones. Now what part am I?