The Peaceable Community
Updated: May 15, 2020
I believe in the God in Trinity, or in community. It is “not that we comprehend the mystery itself but that we see how the doctrine of the Trinity functions...(It is) about who God is and what God is doing in our lives and the world around.” In the community of a trinitarian God the life of mutual, relational, and self-giving love emerges.
Since humans were created in the image of God who is in community, the first and most important commandment for us to keep is “to love one another” (1 John 3:23). God in Jewish and Christian faith traditions say the essence of love is “respect” (1 Samuel 2:30). This is the core value upon which to build and sustain a community. God created the first two humans and placed them in Eden where they could enjoy the community with God and each other. Since they did not respect the covenant with God, however, they lost their cherished close community with God.
My focus on the concept of respect and community is also closely related to the animist/Buddhist faith tradition in which I was raised during my childhood in South Korea. I used to follow my paternal grandma to visit different Buddhist temples that were deep in the forest, serene, quiet, and peaceful. Walking on the road, she taught me that we need to respect all forms of life, including the animals and flowers. According to her, Buddha taught us to have peace in our hearts and to restore peace in the community of this world. This belief ties back with the Christian faith that God created all nature by God’s hand in great diversity. I would welcome and respect all humans including strangers, outcasts, and immigrants regardless of their backgrounds and characters since we are all created in Imago Dei.
I believe a definition of sin is “that which is blocking the willingness to love one another to build community with others.” From both my faith traditions, I believe that when humans break this commandment to love and respect one another, it becomes sin. As a result of this sin, humans move away from God’s design for community resulting in enmity between them and God, others and even nature. As sin enters into human life, the community is shaken, damaged and broken. The result is that humans lose their status as active participants in the community together and either become marginalized, leave the community or are forced to break away from the community.
The peaceable community, recognizing it's own privilege, invites the marginalized, is aware of but not overwhelmed with it's limits, and boldly volunteers to be caregivers to contribute to the building of community with mutual,
relational and self-giving love.
Sakenfelt, an Old Testament theologian sees the Trinity, or God in Community as the community with mutual, relational, and self-giving love. She says such community is well described in the relationship among Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz in the book of Ruth. Their relationship invites humans to follow God’s example to form a similar community called “peaceable community” where each participant recognizes his or her privilege, but does not selfishly cling to it. Rather, he or she uses it to invite the marginalized, is aware of but not overwhelmed with his or her limit, and boldly volunteers to be a caregiver to contribute to the building of the community with mutual, relational and self-giving love. I believe that Neighborhood Seminary is the right place where students can learn how to rebuild the Peaceable Community.
Pastor and Spiritual Director
Neighborhood Seminary Board Member