We Americans here in the United States are experiencing what many experts call a recession and along with it a housing crisis of many dimensions. Many cannot afford to buy a home while many others who already have homes cannot afford to keep them. I would like to suggest that perhaps this crisis is at its heart a call to a deeper community of people. Here are two examples of a posssible cure for our crisis. Interestingly enough both come from the city that gave us our new President, Mr Obama.
In December I was very glad to visit two communities in Chicago that demonstrate another way for people to live. First, let me tell you about Jesus People USA. They have been around for about 40 plus years and have grown in wisdom and understanding. They now occupy a large building in downtown Chicago and about 400 people live together in community and sharing of income and resources. Amazing! Families with children, single people, the elderly, eating together , everyone calls this place home and they seem to be thriving in ways that are deeply human. Their work includes caring for the sick and elderly, and several musical groups including a Celtic Band. They extend a warm welcome especially to the poor.
The other group which I want to tell you about is called Reba Place Community. About 300 people in total, this community has a core group of about 100 who live in households in Evanston just outside of Chicago. Again, they share income and resources, eating together and meeting together often during the week. The wisdom they have gathered over 50 years grows out of the Mennonite tradition and is deep. Households become families and as families they support each other in practical ways. Problems arise and are responded to as a community. Their newest addition is a group of young people who have formed a string quintet. Lovely!
In both these groups there is a collective wisdom that speaks clearly to our present situation in the United States. The lessons of community are being lived out here in Chicago for all to see and for all to learn from. The question is: will we? I pray that we will.