to this Issue
can Christian Communities weather the challenges and storms ahead?
“Unless the Lord builds the house, those
who build it labor in vain” – Psalm 127:1
Living in Christian community is a gift and calling
which we cannot take for granted. Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book, Life
Together, speaks of the privilege Christians have to live in visible
community with other Christians.
It is not simply to be taken for granted
that the Christian has the privilege of living among other Christians.
Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples
deserted him. On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers
and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies
of God. So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered
life but in the thick of foes. There is his comission, his work.
..So between the death of Christ and the Last Day it is only by a gracious
anticipation of the last things that Christians are privileged to live
in visible fellowship with other Christians.
In this issue
Dr. Daniel Keating in his article, Called
to Be God's Household, Priesthood, and People of God, explains Peter
the Apostle's teaching on "being living stones built together 'into a dwelling
place of God in the Spirit.'"
Dietrich Bonhoeffer exphasizes the spiritual truth
that life together in Christian community is only possible through and
in Jesus Christ. A selection
of quotes from Bonhoeffer's writings highlight his teaching on life
together in community.
Bob Tedesco offers an apologetic
for lay Christian communities today and their role in the wider church.
Steve Clark's article, Mere
Christian Community, offers timeless wisdom that community essentially
is a type of relationship rather than a particular structure.
Carlos Mantica explains how the City of God community
in Managua, Nicaragua heard the call
of the Lord to rebuild their foundations during the chaos and upheaval
caused by a major eathquake, political revolution, and collaspe of church
leadership in the decades following the 1970s. The lessons learned can
be very helpful for those who seek to build solid foundations for life
together in Christian community.
A prophetic sign
Today there are many hundreds of Christian renewal
covenant communities around the world. What is the significance of these
intentional lay Christian communities for the wider church today? First,
it is a signpost of what God is bringing about through the gift of being
baptized in the Holy Spirit. It is a visible public sign of the Lord's
work of renewal in bringing people into a revitalized relationship with
God, and it is a sign of the unity he desires for all his people. The unity
we already have as brothers and sisters in Christ stems from baptism and
the gift and working of the Holy Spirit. This gift of life together enables
Christians of different traditions to recognize one another as brothers
and sisters in Christ and to live together in real shared life. This unifying
grace is a hallmark of God's work today.
Second, covenant community is a servant of the
renewal. It is meant to be a prophetic sign to the rest of the charismatic
renewal, and to the churches, and to the world. It's a message to everybody,
but not everybody is called to this particular form of community. People
should be able to vist covenant communities and see how the Holy Spirit
is renewing his people and restoring to them a fuller shared life together.
It is part of the nature of a sign that you cannot be everything. Covenant
communities cannot do everything and cannot solve all problems. They are
only a part, but, nonetheless an important part of God's work of renewal
The Sword of the
We believe that the Lord has called the Sword
of the Spirit, an international network of covenant communities, for
this age, a time of significant change and upheaval in the world and a
time of difficulty and spiritual conflict for many Christians. But it is
also a time for great spiritual renewal and evangelism, and for building
Christian communities throughout the world to stem the tide of evil and
to strengthen God's people.
Sincerely in Christ,
Schwager is a member of The
Servants of the Word and author of Daily
Scripture Readings and Meditations.