As Vessel Church gets closer to a reality, my mind keeps drifting to the idea of community and what that means here in Rogers County. What does community mean to this new ministry, and what does this new ministry mean to the community?
Consider an excerpt from the book, Eight Habits of the Heart, by Clifton Taulbert:
"Today many of us need to define, and redefine, the meaning of community. When I ask the question, What is community? most people answer by immediately recalling a geographical location, a place where they once lived. However, as I have come to understand over the years and through listening to others, the full concept of community is much bigger, with consequences far beyond the place where we first experienced the touch of others in our lives. It is really the 'touch' that defines community in every age. When I was a child, the 'touch' looked like shared conversation after a hard day of work in the fields. It was sharing meager meals as if they were banquets. It was me and my great-aunt gathering in the wood and coal to create a warm home and stave off the winter's cold. The 'touch' looked like math problems being explained and lunch money given. It looked like long walks together to Lake Washington, where fishing was mandatory. It looked like my great-aunt standing on her narrow front porch each morning for four years alerting the bus driver that I was indeed going to school that day. It looked like Miss Sarah Fields pulling out her orange crate box to make an extra place at her supper table. In the place I remember, we valued each other and shared our lives."
"Of course, when I am asked, What is community? I, too, recall a place. But I realize now that the place was just the set, the stage, where my great-aunt and others would share the past of their lives and the present we knew, and anticipated our future together. In other words, the real community I knew as a child was not held captive by geography, nor was it defined by the physical staff that was part of our place. Recalling my place, I remember the big iron bed, the sixty-watt exposed light bulb, my cot, the washstand, and the windows that looked out on roads that I thought led to nowhere. Recalling your place, you will also recall things, like your house, your room, the furniture, your office, your desk, the basketball court, the park, and the paintings on the wall. Yet when asked to make the community personal, you will no doubt place people at the center. The memories formed from shared experiences, from unselfish acts of kindness, these are the elements of community that I cherish."
What comes to mind when you think of your community? We have the busy railroad tracks that divide Claremore right in half; the one shopping center that also boasts spectator stands for annul parades down Will Rogers Blvd; the Stillwater Mill; the new court house; and Claremore Lake. All of these are prominent visuals of Claremore and Rogers County, but community, as Clifton Taulbert points out, is much more. Community is the people of Claremore and of Rogers County. It's the grocery-store sacker that you taught in Sunday school just a few years ago; the local football coach that works the sno-cone hut for the summer; the single mom moving in next door that could use a hand with lawn work. We all see the same places in our community, the traintracks, the mill, and the lake, but we all experience community differently based on how people touch our lives. So here's a question for you. How are YOU making a difference in our community and in the lives of those around us? Are you the great-aunt to someone else's story, or the Miss Sarah Fields? How will you be inserted in someone else's description of their community?
May Vessel Church be a vessel for reaching out and doing life with our neighbors, not just a geographical location. May Vessel Church be people, real people, reaching out, sharing life, and creating the sense of community that truly makes a difference in the quality of life we lead. Here's to the Claremore Community and being a wonderful part of it in a unique, fresh, and different way!