Sharing as a Way of Living

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by Marilyn McEntyre

 

Some of the most interesting and challenging innovations and reforms in Christian community in the past few years have been efforts to live as though sharing were one of the deepest, most fundamental principles of faithful living. That is to say that some Christians are revisiting the notion that we are the body of Christ in ways that go way beyond many people’s comfort zones. “New monastic” communities on the model of “The Simple Way” in Philadelphia bring people together in communities where all goods are shared, the poor are welcomed, and restorative justice is a daily practice, not just an idea.1 Koinonia Farms in Georgia, the Anathoth Community Farm in Wisconsin, and similar intentional farming or craft communities bring together “Christians called to live together in intentional community sharing a life of prayer, work, study, service and fellowship.” They seek “to embody peacemaking, sustainability, and radical sharing.”2 In times of deepening economic crisis more and more local church communities conduct year-round food drives, set up regular soup kitchens, and offer free services and stuff through simple, local networks committed to mutual support. “Christian Simple Living” is a subset of a larger “Simple Living” movement aimed at “freeing us from consumer culture” into a more compassionate way of living that includes “radical sharing” and “restorative justice” — terms that need to be part of our active vocabulary as we consider our own faith response to our collective economic condition.

Some Ways to Share

  • Begin every day for a month with the questions, “What can I share today? Where can I ‘pay it forward’? What do I have that might be given away?”
  • See if there’s room at the church for a “sharing station” where clean, usable tools, utensils, books, or clothing might be stored for anyone’s use.
  • Share fifteen minutes two or three times a week on the phone with someone who might be lonely.
  • Host dinner-and-documentary nights to talk about the public issues that affect us all and how to be “in it together.”
  • Write down answers to the questions, “What do you mean, we? Who are we and where does us become them?” Finding those lines of division might be matter for a fruitful day of spiritual retreat.
  • Consider how to create a “steady-state” household in which, if something comes in, something goes out.
  • Inform yourself about the bioregion, ecosystem, watershed, and seismic area you inhabit as a way of becoming more aware of the community with whom you share what the earth provides, and find out what groups are caring for those resources — and join them!
  • Pray more intentionally for healing, not just for individuals who are manifestly ill, but for all of us who are suffering the consequences of greed on a scale that’s barely imaginable, recognizing that peace depends on healing the body of Christ and the family of humankind. “If we have no peace,” Mother Teresa reminded us in her simple way, “it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”



From “What Does ‘Mine’ Mean?” by Marilyn McEntyre. Published in Weavings: A Journal of the Christian Spiritual Life, November/December 2011/January 2012, Vol. 28, No. 1. Copyright © 2011 by The Upper Room. 

Photography by Elaine Casap / Unsplash


Notes:

1 thesimpleway.org

2 quote from koinoniapartners.org

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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