Tag Archive: Generosity


Community Life

Hi friends!  I’ve been bad about updating this blog, but it’s because there’s been a ton of fun things going on, and that’s a good thing, right?  Over the past month or so, I’ve been living at the Collegium Oecumenicum in Munich and it’s been great! One thing I’ve really been thinking about is community.  Here, I live with about 50 other students from all over the world.  I share a floor with others, which means that I share bathrooms, a kitchen and a living room with other people.  Some people might shirk at the idea of living together and having to share with others, but I actually think it’s a great thing that everyone should do – at least once!  And, for the record, this is my second round of living in a Wohngemeinschaft (WG – or, “flat-sharing community”).

So now you may be wondering why I would want to live like this, right?  Well, I can sum it up in one word: community.  Here at the Collegium, we have the opportunity to eat breakfast and lunch in the large dining hall, or we can cook in the kitchens found on each of the floors.  In doing so, it means that we often run into others who are in the dining hall or in the kitchen at the same time.  This leads to fun conversations, or to making plans to go out and do things in the city or the surrounding area, or to delicious community meals.  Last night, for example, many of us pooled our resources to make a huge dinner of salad, bread, pasta, and homemade tomato sauce (yes, bread and pasta – I think we were carbo-loading!).  All shared what they had and helped with the cooking and cleaning.  It was a blast and we had plenty of food to left over for today.  It was truly beautiful because everything was freely shared and enjoyed.

And this is not the only time in my life I’ve experienced this.  People here and in Freiburg, where I studied before, – poor students, mind you! – have been so generous with what they have.  When I think about this, I think of the wealth we have in the States (and in a large part of the developed world in general) and the fact that it seems the more wealth we have, the more people seem to clench their fists tightly around what they have.  “This is mine…,” we say (myself included), and we insinuate that these possessions will not change hands any time soon.

I’ve also been struck by how the members of this community support one another.  I was quite nervous a few weeks ago because I had an important interview, but my roommates stepped up and listened to me, later asking how everything had gone and rejoicing with me when things went well.  People really paid attention and cared about what was going on in my life.  This is also something I’ve experienced in the community at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg and within various church communities.  It makes such a difference to know that people are really looking after you – that they are listening to you, praying for/with you, and that they follow up with you.

This particular community at the Collegium is also drawn together by our mutual belief in Jesus Christ and I’m really enjoying my experience here.  I find it exciting and refreshing that people invite others to attend church services of various flavors and that faith is something that is openly discussed here.  In an increasingly secular country (32-37% do not profess a religion), I find a great deal of hope in the students gathered here who explore and struggle with faith together.  We’re a community of people that gather together from various backgrounds in worship, confessing our faith together in the Apostle’s Creed and praying the Lord’s Prayer together.  These confessions and prayers happen in whatever language people choose and many have remarked how fascinating it is that, somehow, we all begin and end together when we speak, even if we’re not using the same language.  We’re a people who break bread and share wine together, both in the Eucharist and in every day meals.

Don’t get me wrong, I love having my own personal space, but there is something truly wonderful about living together in community.  It’s not always easy or perfect, but there’s a holiness or a sacredness that happens in community when people come together in spite of their differences.  Communities challenge and stretch us – they force us to examine ourselves and how we interact with others.  And besides, the Trinity, is, after all, a community, isn’t it?

So my question here is how can we intentionally build community where we are?  We may not live in a WG (“flat-sharing community”), but we can still work at building these communities in our churches and in our neighborhoods.  Maybe the foundations have already been laid and there only needs to be a critical mass of people who are willing to commit to spending time together, listening to and caring for one another, or working together to transform the local neighborhood.  The church should be a natural place to start, but if community is lacking, how can you help to foster change?  What ideas do you have?  I’d love to hear them!

For me, though, it’s late…and I don’t want to miss the morning breakfast with everyone!

© 2012. Annabelle Peake Markey. All rights reserved.

Advertisements

Fourth Sunday in Lent

Another week down – that’s crazy! I have no idea where the time is going. All I know is that this week, Psalm 46 did not get memorized. I selected it because we had looked at it last Friday in my Psalter class, finding that the Hebrew in 46:10 (“Be still and know that I am God!”) is actually closer to “Let go and know that I am God!” “Let go.” Wow. That blew my mind. It has the connotation of letting go of a rope or unclenching one’s fist (as in a war).

This “letting go” also came up later when I was in contemplative prayer and meditating on what I felt called to work on in my relationships with God and others. What came up was trusting God more. And when I prayed about and listened for how to trust more, the answer I heard was twofold: to embrace the blessings God has given me and to “let go and know that I am God.”

So when it came time to pick a psalm to memorize, I thought Psalm 46 would be a winner. However, when I sat down to read over it, nothing was sticking. I tried a few times and it just wasn’t speaking to me. And throughout the week, various things came up and I neglected poor 46. Sigh.

When I realized the week had gone by and I hadn’t managed to memorize this psalm, I was discouraged. How could I have been such a slacker? Even if it wasn’t speaking to me, I still should have spent more time with it, opening my heart to see if it would touch me. However, this struggle with Psalm 46 seems to have served to point me in the direction of my next psalm. What could it be? Psalm 42:

As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
the face of God?
3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me continually,
‘Where is your God?’
4 These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I went with the throng,
and led them in procession to the house of God,
with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving,
a multitude keeping festival.
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help 6and my God.
My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep
at the thunder of your cataracts;
all your waves and your billows
have gone over me.
8 By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
9 I say to God, my rock,
‘Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I walk about mournfully
because the enemy oppresses me?’
10 As with a deadly wound in my body,
my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me continually,
‘Where is your God?’
11 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.

You may wonder why I’ve chosen a longer psalm when I couldn’t even get through the relatively short Psalm 46 last week, but I think I’ll have better luck because this speaks to me, especially the first two verses: “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” Like the deer of the wilderness longing for a stream, I, too, long to be closer to God – to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit and inspired (“in-Spirited”) for service to God and the world.

With this psalm on my lips and in my heart, perhaps it’ll be a constant reminder of what and for whom I should be longing – not after the things of this world, but God. And in those moments when my soul is disquieted and cast down, I can recall that I will indeed praise God at a later time – as I have done in the past so many times due to God’s mercy, grace and outrageous generosity.

© 2011. Annabelle Peake. All rights reserved.

“Give Me Your Eyes”

After hearing one of Brandon Heath’s other songs on the radio (“Wait and See”), I found the song below on YouTube and I’ve been listening to and enjoying it ever since.

The song really resonates with my hopes and prayers and I think it’s got a great message. Here are the lyrics so you can follow along:

“Looked down from a broken sky
Traced out by the city lights
My world from a mile high
Best seat in the house tonight
Touched down on the cold black top
Hold on for the sudden stop
Breathe in the familiar shock
Of confusion and chaos
All those people going somewhere,
Why have I never cared?

Chorus:
Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
Ones that are far beyond my reach.
Give me your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see
Yeah
Yeah
Yeah
Yeah

Step out on a busy street
See a girl and our eyes meet
Does her best to smile at me
To hide what’s underneath
There’s a man just to her right
Black suit and a bright red tie
Too ashamed to tell his wife
He’s out of work
He’s buying time
All those people going somewhere
Why have I never cared?

Chorus

I’ve been there a million times
A couple of million eyes
Just moving past me by
I swear I never thought that I was wrong
Well I want a second glance
So give me a second chance
To see the way you see the people all along”

Chorus (x2)

Gracious God, help us to see with your eyes as we go about our lives. Grant us loving hearts that we might reach out to be Christ to our neighbors. Help us to take the time to see what others are going through, that by knowing generosity in what you have done for us on the cross, we might be generous and merciful to others. In Jesus’ holy and blessed name, AMEN!

%d bloggers like this: