SINGAPORE – Community was the theme of the final talk of “SE7EN”, a programme organised by the Mustard Seed Community. Speaker Jonathan Pillai engaged an audience of about 25 young adults aged from 23 to 35 with candid, often humorous anecdotes and insights about the role of community in his speech, which took place at the Church of St Francis Xavier on Sunday Aug 22.
Jonathan shared how, as a youth, he was preoccupied with worldly success and being ‘cool’ and “knowing it all”. His faith journey led him to Germany where God “chipped away all the pieces of my life” in order to renew him. He was eventually called, in almost miraculous fashion, to being a member of Earthen Vessels, an evangelistic lay community.
“We need community because we are made in God’s image,” says Jonathan. In fact, the family – a microcosm of the larger community – may be regarded as “a replication of the triune God”.
The importance of community in an individual’s faith journey manifests in many ways. For instance, in requiring us to be open, community enables us to “carry our brokenness to the cross, because we are all broken.”
Furthermore, community allows us to better discern God’s way, as “in community the revelation comes again and again”.
By encouraging participants to remain Christ-like in their family, work and social life, community helps us to “live an authentic Christian life, not to compartmentalise”. Finally, in community we are “called to the love of Jesus”. This involves seeing all members of the community as Christ sees us, being challenged to love beyond our comfort zone and to be the first to forgive.
After the talk, participants raised searching questions that ranged from balancing community life with secular life, to welcoming a new member into the community.
“SE7EN”, which comprised a series of six talks and a weekend retreat, aimed to tackle common issues faced by young adults in contemporary society. These included the lack of support many young people encounter on their faith journey, as well as questions about the existence of God. Participants were led on a journey of self-discovery that allowed them to reflect on their relationships with God and themselves, their significant others and finally to the community at large.
Participant Duane Ang from Holy Family Parish was attracted to the programme by the questions raised in the promotional poster, as these struck a chord with his own spiritual search. A rewarding aspect of the programme was, according to him, encountering other young people on a similar faith journey, with the same questions and issues, “broken and needing to be healed”.