A Community Crying Out
"So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened."
July 22, 2022, Words By: Ivan Monzon, Image By: unknown
A group of leaders in a Mayan urban community in Guatemala were very enthusiastic about the idea of running a program to combat teenage alcohol consumption — one of many issues negatively impacting young people in their community. They had great plans, but one question remained: where could they obtain the necessary resources to run a program like this?
As the community tried to brainstorm solutions, one of the leaders realized that the city still had some unused funding for “social projects.” Then, another participant remembered that a local public institution could provide technical support. Then, another leader suggested that the bars and restaurants could be asked to pay for a yearly contribution to support the program.
What started as individuals confronting scarcity ended with a community experiencing abundance. They just needed to come together. And they needed to ask.
This is often the case in community organizing. Of course, to achieve results you need to be well organized, set goals, clearly knock on the door, and even be skilled enough to put a foot in the door before they can close it on you. Having a positive attitude is a good starting point. Having clarity about the needs is great.
But the reality is, the first step towards birthing something new is often the act of “asking” as a community. That doesn’t negate the power and necessity of individual action. But there’s something especially transformative and revelatory about a collective cry from within the context of relationship. That holds true in community organizing, and in our faith life.
And that theme really comes alive in our scripture today from Luke 11. In it, Jesus encourages us to knock on the door. He is not only directing these words to a group of individuals but to a community of disciples. The language of “us,” “we,” “you (plural),” “our,” and “ourselves” pops up throughout the entire passage.
From an individualistic worldview, it’s easy to miss this. The text starts with Jesus praying in the midst of community. In the Lord’s prayer, the request is to “Give us our daily bread … And forgive us our sins” (11:3 – 4). Even the metaphors, two friends, and a father and son, are relational in nature.
To be clear, this isn’t a text about pressuring God to act, like some sort of strike. But it’s a reminder that when we come to God in community, aware of our own needs, gaps and weaknesses, it often has a strange way of surfacing the abundance we hadn’t seen before. Just like the group of Mayan leaders experienced.
But more importantly, it often reminds us of God’s goodness and goodwill toward us. It reminds us that God is not like the grumpy neighbor, or the angry father, or a slow-moving bureaucracy who all reluctantly relent if we pester them enough. God is the One who relates to us at the deepest level, freely and happily granting the gift of the Spirit — the gift of communion that pulls us all deeper into meaningful relationship with our Creator and our community.
Dwelling Among Us
In the midst of our spoken and unspoken realities, where might the Spirit be moving? How is the Spirit moving in the space of waiting? And how might we relearn in a new way?