Our adult Sunday School class at church is reading a book entitled Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus. I made the choice, designed to help us explore possibilities for slowing down and re-imagining choices for community during a time of transition.
Today we embarked upon a section of three chapters called “Ecology.” Why, I wondered all week, did the authors pull material on wholeness, work, and Sabbath together under such a general heading?
I finally began to think about what the word ecology means: the study of a system and how its parts fit together and relate to one another, successfully or not. And so we began with a discussion of the ecology of a field — the nutrients of its soil — nitrogen, sun, water) its products (grain, vegetables, fruits), and those who make heir living from what it produces (rodents, snakes, insects, birds, us). All of those diverse parts are necessary for a healthy field ecology.
I’m not sure that we quite made the transition to church ecology, but we did talk about our call to stewardship, of field and church, about the fragmentation and broken places in the church, and about what might be required to heal that fragmentation.
How might we become open to specific possibilities that we might be inclined to reject off the bat, but might be welcomed by others and might enlarge and deepen our community and practice of worship? How might we imagine ourselves as a community with an ecology sustained by a healthy diversity and web of relationships rather than isolated preferences?
We weren’t quite so articulate as I’ve implied, but it was a start ~ and a fascinating way to consider church community. Next week perhaps we’ll make it through the chapters on work and Sabbath, and make some progress on articulating our own ecology.
Photo: Lovely Daughter hiking in Craggy Gardens off the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina.