Life is amazing because we have been allowed to live in a world with variety. We wake up every morning and look out the window and our world appears differently. Some days are clear and the sky is light blue; other days are clear, but the sky is a deeper shade of blue or a little gray. And if the sky is not blue or clear, there are clouds which can be white, light gray, dark or even colors at dawn, dusk and other times. Every day we wake to a new world.
The world we walk out into changes because of a variety of ingredients which blend together. These ingredients include, but are not limited to the temperature, the humidity, and the wind speed. As ingredients are added or taken away the appearance of our world changes.
The weather continually gives us something to talk about. On some days we enjoy our world; on other days we hate going outside. But as we talk to one another about the weather we discover we are not all the same. Some people like the world warmer, and others a bit cooler. Some people like the dew in the morning, others want to keep their feet dry when they walk on the grass. People are different.
People who are different bring variety to our world. When we walk out of our door in the morning, because we live in proximity with other people we interact with these differences every day. Some people are tall, some are short; People come with different colorations of their skin, hair, and eyes. And they come with different personalities. Some people are calm and quiet; other people are boisterous and loud. And when we walk out the door of our homes we must interact with people, as we must interact with the weather.
We must interact with people because we live in community. Community is defined as: 1. a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. 2. a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. 3. a group of people who have the same interests, religion, race, etc.
The reason we live in communities is because we need other people, people who are different. We need around us people who can do things we are not gifted or able to do; put simply we need people who can fix things around the house we can’t fix. We also need people for conversation and companionship, and we like people who are different, who see things we do not see and understand things we do not understand. We connect ourselves to communities of people because they add to our life.
Communities are made up of people of faith. Within the fabric of who we are there seems to be the need to interact with a higher power, or to purposely not interact with a higher power who is responsible for all things including weather, people and life in general. The way each of us interacts with this higher power who can not be seen is different. This is called faith.
Faith: (a noun) is 1. confidence or trust in a person or thing: 2. belief that is not based on proof: 3. belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: 4. belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.: 5. a system of religious belief: 6. the obligation of loyalty or fidelity to a person, promise, engagement,etc.: 7. the observance of this obligation; fidelity to one’s promise, oath,allegiance, etc.:
People go to churches, temples, or mosques; they go to home meetings, meetings in the park, or linger over conversations in the outside community to discover elements of faith; and if they call it “our faith,” they seek to learn more about the teachings and complexities of the belief. People enter into communities of people who share the same or similar faith. And they study and learn.
As people we are quite faithful to our faith groups, and our faith communities demand our loyalty. It is hard to get out of the box; but do you ever wonder what other faith groups believe, what they do, and why they do it?
We can’t explore every part of our community or meet every person because often the community is too large. We would like to meet the interesting people, or learn from the successful people; but there is not enough time or we don’t know where to go. So we read, newspapers and online sources like atombash.com to discover parts of our community which we have never explored.
We don’t explore every church because we are loyal to our faith community, but we know they are different. We attend our own church, to maintain and grow relationships, and don’t get out of our circles. But do you ever wonder what other faith communities are like?
Sometimes people wonder, and they want to go and try another mosque, temple, church or small group, but then they are not sure. They ask, “What happens if I do not stand up at the right time, or say the wrong thing, will I look foolish?” And then as people we wonder what we will discover, and if the things we discover will hurt or help us. And if we go, will we even understand what is said … will someone break it down in our terms.
I wondered the same thing, so I decided to explore and write about different faith communities every day this year. This series, 365 Faith communities will look at various religious communities. These communities can be churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, covens, small groups (or large) who meet together on a regular basis. The commonality of their belief gives them a reason to meet together ; the regularity of their meeting builds community; and both together builds affinity. Faith groups can be close : sometimes closer to each other than to their natural family. Faith groupings build tight communities.
Faith Communities can go beyond a regular worship or class meeting into other areas, such as when groups celebrate festivals. People enjoy and come out for festivals. Festivals are other than normal activities, where a religious group will go all out to make the event special and different than the routine. Sometimes these festivals are held in the facility where the religious group meets; other times a festival can draw several groups together. The festival usually strengthens a faith practice or belief, and in so doing builds community and commonality. Sometimes festivals define who we are. An example is the Jewish festival of Sukkoth which tells the story of how Israel traveled forty years in the wilderness and grew into a more coherent community.
During this year 365 Faith Communities will look at Denominations , which are larger communities that share common beliefs. Most denominations have some type of gathering for leadership of religious groups, and the leaders become much closer as they meet together. And beyond Denominations we will look at faith networks, which cross denominational lines in order to draw religious groups with similar practices together for training and fellowship.
Through the year we will look at other faith communities beyond the places of worship, beyond religions, denominations and networks, and beyond festivals which are gathering points for adherents to different religions. Faith communities can include coffee houses, political rallies, and even gathering spots such as restaurants and businesses which promote a faith and thereby gather a community. I am open to suggestions here, so if you see a faith community which might be missed; or which you think should be discussed, please leave a comment so it can be reviewed and incorporated into this series.
I hope you will read 365 Faith Communities to meet and learn about different churches, synagogues, temples, shrines, mosques, covens, small groups (or large), festivals, celebrations, holidays, observances, denominations, networks, and other types of faith communities in the Charlotte, NC area: and probably in your area also. I would like you to subscribe, so every day at your inbox you can see the topic of the day. If I get something wrong, I hope you will comment. And trough study, writing and reading we will learn together. Learning about others builds understanding, broadens us culturally and makes us a better part of community and faith.