In his book “The Different Drum” Scott Peck tells the quirky tale of dying and decaying monastery. Dying until a chance meeting of the old abbot of the monastery and a rabbi who gives him an usual gift. It is not material or physical, but a perspective which will revolutionise the abbot’s monastery. The rabbi says these words, “the Messiah is one of you.”
The result of these words was that the old monks began to treat each other with extraordinary respect on the off chance that one among them might be the Messiah. As the tale is told, the monks begin to focus on how Christlike each of them is in some way, rather than the flaws they each possess. This revolutionises the community. Those who come near the monastery can see the change as well. The monastery becomes a community which people are inspired by and want to be part of.
As Peck tells the tale of this monastery, he finishes his tale with these words:
“Then it happened that some of the younger men who came to visit the monastery started to talk more and more with the old monks. After a while one asked if he could join them. Then another. And another. So within a few years the monastery had once again become a thriving order and, thanks to the rabbi’s gift, a vibrant center of light and spirituality in the realm.”
It is a story that invites us to embrace the power of community, but is also a reminder of the power and beauty of a community filled with grace and love. It is a community which shines the light of Christ. Jesus did not see being a community of love and grace as incidental to faith, but central to faith and being his followers. Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
The call of the follower of Jesus is to reflect the light of Christ. Could it be that one great way to begin this is to be a community oriented around loving one another?