CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith from a Place of Winter for the Years of Winter… ©
I have known Paul Unger for almost 60 years. Throughout those years I have often been dismayed at things he said. Well, okay, always. Most recently, though, I actually got a little angry at something he said.
“Community doesn’t last.” That’s what he said.
Well, sure, everybody knows that, but why bring it up? Isn’t it bad enough that so many of our friends are dying? And doesn’t that fly in the face of Christian theology, “for all the saints,” and “so great a cloud of witnesses,” and “neither life nor death nor…”?
He’s right, of course. All those dismaying times, or almost all, he’s been right. He’s especially right about community not lasting.
We want it to last, though. That’s why so many of us identify so strongly with institutions, like university, or church, or even nation, and why we mourn when the school or church we went to closes, or is absorbed into something else. As long as that school or church or town is there, our community remains. As long as our nation is stronger than all the others, our community is intact, we think, even though our friends and family, and even we, ourselves, are no longer a part of it.
The Christian hope, though, is not that community, one way or another, will last, but that it can be reconstituted. No, it does not continue forever. But in its very failure is the possibility of something new to replace the old, something even better. Christian faith is really about resurrection, not immortality, something new, not just the same old thing going on forever.
The basis of community is love, and Paul, the Apostle, does remind us that even death does not conquer love. [Romans 8:31-39] Love does not just continue forever. It does something better. On the ruins of community that does not last, it builds something even better.
That’s the Easter news.
John Robert McFarland
The “place of winter” mentioned in the title line is Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula [The UP], where life is defined by winter even in the summer! [This phrase is explained in the post for March 20, 2014.]