Continuing with Barbara Brown Taylor’s An Altar in the World ….. another of the spiritual practices that she describes is the ‘practice of encountering others’, described in short as ‘community’.
We often talk about relating to the community – it is something on which we are keen. Too often, though, that relationship is just a matter of offering (usually hiring) a space that can be used by the community. Of course, that can be a valuable resource, and so an important contribution to the building of community in the places where we are located.
However, that is not really an encounter. We need to learn from Jesus the importance (and value) of connecting with those around us. As Taylor points out: "Watch how this rabbi practises what he preaches and you will note that his teaching is not limited to people who look, act, or think like him. He does the same eye-to-eye thing with Roman centurions, Samaritan lepers, Syro-Phoenecian women, and hostile Judeans that he does with his own Galilean disciples. He does it with slaves and rulers, twelve-year-old girls and powerful men, people who can be useful to him and people who cannot. With the possible exception of his own family, no one is dismissed from his circle of concern, for no one made in God's image is negligible in the revelation of that same God."