I'm warning you that if you want to have a relational community, a community of friends, a community where people are free to be authentic, honest and open, a community where there's a collegial effort to share the gathering times, then you are in for chaos! It's going to be messy. I promise! It's not going to be messy for a couple of reasons. One is that you will inevitably have a collection of diverse individuals that are full of surprises... some welcome, some not. But then again, it depends who you are. More about that in a sec. For instance, because my messages aren't packaged presentations but more conversational in nature, sometimes someone will say something that will totally derail the discussion with some whacky idea. But then again, it depends who you are. But more about that in a sec. Or, if someone decides they'd like to try out the tambourine during the singing but don't have a lick of rhythm, you have to deal with the sometimes humorous embellishments to the music. But then again, it depends who you are. But more about that in a sec. Or, sometimes during the singing, someone might feel he has something important to share with the community, so he comes up and dominates the stage for a while, sometimes killing the vibe that has been built over the last several minutes with just the right music. But then again, it depends who you are. But more about that in a sec. But the other reason why it is going to be messy is that it depends on who you are. Some people don't mind the intellectual derailments, preferring diversity of opinion or enjoying the fact that the authoritative voice (mine) can be challenged or complimented or changed. Some people don't notice the off-beat tambourine because they don't have rhythm themselves, or it's their son, or they love the fact that the band, which used to be elitist, is just that unrestricted now. Some people appreciate the people who sometimes dominate the stage and share what's on their hearts because they are more emotionally expressive than I am, or they actually do happen to be in touch with issues that are current in peoples' lives and address these with edifying words. But not everybody appreciates these things all of the time. Including me! You see, in all these cases (and these kinds of things happen all the time in our community) these things only wreck the mood if I have an agenda I am trying to fulfill, a goal I am trying to reach, a vision I am trying to materialize. The problem with my philosophy (and most people in our community agree with this): everybody can play, is (and this is where people have issues): anybody can play. I could sterilize Sunday morning to where the singers lead their part with explicit instructions to the community that they are not to interfere. Then I can get up and speak with the firm understanding that I alone am permitted to speak uninterrupted. But then, we wouldn't be who we are, would we? But my, it would be cleaner! What if the point of community was just to be community that is working towards being a functional, healthy and whole community, a small model of what unity in diversity looks like, a local expression of the Body with all its members? What if the whole point was to appreciate the diversity, encourage it, nurture it and practice it, in spite of our personal preferences, opinions and tastes? Although I'm convinced that this is true, I'm still not sure it is possible. The fine art photo is the creation of my friend Howard Nowlan. It captures for me the interplay of smooth and rough.