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'communityCommunity' has becomes a hackneyed word and now everyone seems to be in a 'community'. There is apparently something called the 'internet community' for example. No doubt there is a stamp collectors community and a hot air baloon community. It's not usual to hear of all sorts of interest groups described under the all embracing heading of 'community.' Can any of these so-called groupings measure up to the word 'community' or should we accept that this precious word with all its history is now vacuous?

Benedictines take the word very seriously. A monk who taught and trained me said that community involved fostering a common mind, common worship, and common table, all for the common good. A lot of sweat and grace had to go into our living together before we could make claims around the c-word. This was no autocratic communism or hippie commune but a group of people freely working hard to become inter-dependent. A real community involves a lot of grown up conversations, huge dollops of listening, and the possibility of forgiveness. For Christian theology community resonates with the word 'communion, our ultimate sharing in the life of God. Another word for that is love, a word which like community is overused.

I have probably used the word community too much in talks and sermons. I shall endeavour to lock it up and bring it only on rare occasions. It is rather easy to over use this word. In this diocese (Exeter) clusters of parishes are now referred to as, yes you've guessed it, 'mission communities'. It is a great comination of words then again, there is the hackneyed 'm' word whicn in itself could be the basis of another entry, or two, or three, on this blog. Both 'mission' and 'community' are words that, at their best, deserve our full attention. No easy task!