Called to Community: The Life Jesus Wants for His People is a collection of 52 readings, with accompanying discussion questions, that lay claim to a fundamental truth: Christian faith is connecting faith. As a direct challenge to the individualism and isolationism of contemporary secular notions of “freedom,” Charles Moore has brought together some seminal thinkers for reflecting on the abundant life, the life together, that Jesus envisions for those who follow him. And make no doubt about it, those who follow him are bound together in a “mystical union” that takes flesh and blood in the life of the Church.
Gerhard Lohfink, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dorothy Day, Joan Chittister, St Benedict, Richard Foster, Mother Teresa, Jean Vanier – among so many others – are all given lengthy selections (most are around 5 pages, but several have much more) that offer us deep meditations on the connection that Christ makes in the Spirit to create that spiritual community that is the Church. All from writers who know firsthand the challenges and gifts that come with this connecting faith. They know firsthand that the kind of “life together,” intentional Christian fellowship, for which Jesus yearns and into which he calls us is really the best and only hope the fragmented world has. In fact, Called to Community works best as a field guide for forming those transformational communities.
But these selections refuse to allow us to fragment that fellowship into a spiritual oblivion. Instead, Moore helps us grasp, through all these voices, the living reality – with flesh and blood – which is often a difficult practice in our world. So Called to Community also explores the practices necessary to sustain the intentional community of Jesus’ disciples, practices like hospitality and mercy. In a world where it’s more common to find folks decrying genuine Christian community, Moore dares us to dream fresh dreams and live transformed lives in the way Jesus envisioned for his followers.
That’s what makes Called to Community such a refreshing book. Here, 52 faithful Christians engage in the day to day practices that make the life Jesus desires for us humans. They aren’t afraid to tackle real life tasks – like cleaning toilets! – for the flourishing of human lives in the real world.
There’s no doubt to my mind, though, that Called to Community is essential reading for everyone who cares about how we Christians create and sustain our graceful life together.
Rev. Julius McCarter, PhD, is a minister and spiritual director who lives in Loudon, TN. He is the author of several books, most recently The Fire and the Rose. His ministry, Sunergoi Ministries, maintains a blog at the-little-friar.blogspot.com.