I have the very unique gift of living my summers in Intentional Christian Community at Silver Lake Conference Center. I live on site with our Silver Lake Summer Staff, who live together in two different housing units. We work side by side. We eat all of our meals together with our campers and volunteers in the Social Hall. We laugh and play together. We worship and sing together. We also make mistakes, both big and small, together. When you live in community like this there are expectations of how we will live. We live in Covenant with one another.
In the midst of all of this joy there are also moments of sadness and disappointment when people choose to break covenant. We have a set of very clear “Silver Lake No’s” — those aspects of life together that, if done, are fundamentally community breaking and dangerous both for individuals and the community. On occasions, folks either break a Silver Lake No or break covenant and need to leave Silver Lake. This is one of the hardest parts of living in Christian Community, being able to name the wrong and then holding folks accountable for the good of the community, for the safety of all, and for the Love of God.
What makes Christian Community different, however, is that in Christian Community we believe in reconciliation, the restoration of relationship, and welcoming folks back into community and covenant. One aspect of the way we travel that journey together at Silver Lake is through writing a letter examining the wrong, its impact on community, and the way one is growing through and from this moment. I have recently come to understand that one of the most sacred moments of my ministry as Executive Director at Silver Lake is reading these Holy letters and being a part of this sacred conversation of healing, of learning, of growing, of falling and getting back up, of holding folks to a higher standard and knowing that God has created each and every person to be amazing and we can do that, and being a part of renewing covenant and community.
Living in community is exhausting. Living in Christian Community is no easier. It is also filled with moments of incredible grace, profound joy, deep love, and continual moments of transforming life.
A Prayer: God of Love, help us to live as though we are always in intentional Christian Community. Help us to live in covenant and community. When we fall short, embolden us to seek forgiveness, to forgive, to rebuild trust and covenant, and to be instruments of your unbounded love. Amen.
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CT, MA, and RI Conference of the United Church of Christ.