As I’ve mentioned in the past, we are affiliated with a Christian community known as “Grace and Main.” I say “affiliated” because Grace and Main is an intentional Christian community, comprised of people who have chosen to live in the inner city of our nearby town. As much as we love them and admire their work, as farmers and rural folks we can never expect to be fully integrated into the community. That requires living in proximate community. Nevertheless, Grace and Main is the closest thing we have to a congregation right now
Last night we hosted the weekly Grace and Main Bible study. Even though we call it a “Bible study,” most of the time we are reading a book together and discussing it. Last night we finished up Jonathan Wilson Hargrove’s book God’s Economy. Jonathan lives in an intentional Christian community in Durham North Carolina, and he is one of the founders of the new monastic movement. His book is a challenging call to reconsider and reevaluate how we live in what we call “the economy.”
We love being a part of this group, in whatever way we can. These are people who walk the Christian walk 24-7, in personal community with the poor and the marginalized– “the least of these.” At the same time, there is a continual awareness and engagement with the issues of justice that challenge us on a local level, on a national level, and a global level. There is a rejection of and resistance to all those elements of empire that so much of the church world these days seems, by and large, to embrace and promote.
So last night, in our living room, a small community of Christians, whose leaders are half our age, sat and talked about what it means to be nominal citizens of a nation that is now perpetually at war. We wrestled with Jesus’ words that we should “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.” One of the men in the room with us last night was homeless and living on the streets a couple of years ago. Thanks to Grace and Main he now has a place to live, and he shares it with those who are still homeless. One of the women in the room with us last night was living in a dilapidated apartment a couple of years ago, being victimized by slumlord. Now, thanks to Grace and Main she has a house of her own, where she is safe and comfortable. These were not people who received a handout from a local church, whose members then returned to their comfortable suburban lives. Rather, they are people who were brought into community with our friends, who have stayed with them and, I am sure, will always stay with them.
I’m convinced that the future of American Christianity, if it is to have a future, is with communities like Grace and Main.