I was lying next to my daughter Ruby as she drank her milk and started to fade to sleep. She often hums her favorite songs through the garble of milk, but this night she set aside the milk so she could nail every note of her newly assembled tune.
To the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Ruby began singing the nicknames she has created of those who are closest to her…the people she lives life with. She sang (start humming Twinkle Twinkle to get full effect!), “Nena, Titi, Ani, Sam, Momma, Elmo, Daddy.” Ok, the truth is out…yes, we watch Elmo. But, the red puppet aside, little Ruby was falling asleep to the names and images of those that love her and those in whom she loves. Not only was this adorable, it was profound.
I’d like to think this song was the 19-month version of evening prayers. Her very last conscious thoughts of the day turned not to herself, her toys, her dolls…no, they turned to others. To those we share life with; community mates, family, neighbors.
What would it look like if we all went to sleep not consumed with prayers for ourselves (or with personal details of life that I so often allow to take over my thoughts), but with prayers for others? These are the prayers of one radically shaped by community. Not just a group of people who hang out a lot, but a group of people who are intentionally shaping their lives in the way of Jesus and see life in community as the best way to faithfully live this out.
True community is wrestling through life’s good and bad…together. It is carrying each other’s burdens. It is not just sharing meals, but sharing mission. It not about building one’s personal kingdom, but about participating in God’s Kingdom.
Life in community is exchanging the autonomous life of independence for a life of radical interdependence. First between the great mystery of Father, Son and Holy Spirit and second between ourselves and the community we have entrusted ourselves to. The Marlboro Man (independence, freedom, self reliance) of our Western culture is a deceptive myth and the anti-thesis of relationships in God’s Kingdom.
From the beginning, all humanity was hardwired for community. We were designed to find life in communion with God and communion with one another. We can’t fully understand who we are and who God wants us to be outside of life in community.
Ruby’s prayer-song was simple and innocent, but I believe it was a window into the divine. It was a glimpse into the dream God has for his people and through childlike faithfulness I got to get a sneak peak of what that might look like.